Sales Tax Tribunal Bar Association vs. State (Bombay High Court) (No. 2)

DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: October 18, 2013 (Date of publication)

Click here to download the judgement (sales_tax_tribunal_woes.pdf)

High Court irked by apathy of Government towards the (non) working of the Sales-tax Tribunal despite 4000 pending appeals with revenue effect of Rs. 4,500 crore

The Sales Tax Tribunal Bar Association filed a Writ Petition seeking certain directions relating to appointment of Members of the Sales Tax Tribunal. The High Court passed an order dated 06.09.2013 in which it expressed surprise that despite revenue of about Rs.4,500 crores which was locked up on account of pending litigation, the Government had not bothered to fill vacancies in the post of Members. The Government sought 4 weeks to consider the matter. Now HELD by the High Court:

(i) The problem highlighted by the Petitioner appears to be very genuine and quite serious. It appears that the policy of the State Government is not to give official accommodation to members of such Tribunals if they are retired Administrative Officers / Police Officers / Judicial Officers. Official accommodation is being provided to only those who are in service before reaching the age of superannuation. This Court fails to understand why the State Government should not provide official accommodation to the members of Administrative Tribunals even if they have retired and are now employed after their retirement;

(ii) The other major problem is that out of the sanctioned strength of 10 members (5 Judicial and 5 Administrative), at present there is only one President, who is a retired Judicial Officer, and 2 administrative members. That means as against the strength of 10, there are only 3 persons manning the post of President and members of the Sales Tax Tribunal at Mumbai. This also appears to be a very serious matter. The State Government shall take necessary steps for filling in the vacant posts;

(iii) Retired Administrative Officers / Police Officers / Judicial Officers would be willing to accept the assignment only if they are given official accommodation and, therefore, let the State Government first decide the question of providing official accommodation to the members from amongst the retired persons;

(iv) When the pendency before the Maharashtra Sales Tax Tribunal is more than 4000 appeals, it is high time that the issue is taken up very seriously at all concerned levels.

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