prpri 7 RTI Questions & 7 Evasive replies given by GSTN after 4 Years of GST 7 RTI Questions & 7 Evasive replies given by GSTN after 4 Years of GST

An attempt to verify robustness of technology driven implementation of biggest tax reforms of independent India through GSTN and success of it’s helpdesk

As we all are aware of on 1st July 2017 at the stroke of midnight Honourable Prime Minister launched GST which is a biggest tax reform of independent India and was discussed for many years but somehow could not be implemented till this golden night for one or other reason.

GST is a law which is implemented through technology as various compliance are to be made online only and for it’s success it is very important that technology used in implementation and administration is a robust one and user friendly and there are no glitches in it and if any glitch is found, same is addressed at the earliest without penalising taxpayer or causing any loss to the revenue. Further, it is also of utmost important that helpdesk of GSTN through which this law is administered is also of high calibre and in a position to address the issues being faced by Taxpayers, Tax Professionals and Officers as without same intention of implementing the GST to provide Ease of Doing Business and make it a Good & Simple Tax in real sense cannot be achieved.

As four years of GST implementation were about to be completed, I made an attempt to ascertain the level of robustness and success of GSTN and it’s helpdesk by filing RTI Application for some of issues.

Accordingly, I had filed an RTI on 29.04.2021. In the said RTI, I had sought details on 10 issued from GST Council. Said RTI was transferred to GSTN on 05.05.2021 but surprisingly CBIC/GST council transferred only 7 issues to GSTN (as GSTN has answered on only first 7 issues and only first page of RTI is enclosed with the reply) and reply thereof is received by me from GSTN by letter dated 18.06.2021 which is enclosed herewith.

I leave it to the wisdom of each reader to ascertain the correctness and end result out of this RTI and decide whether GSTN has been able to provide robust technology during these four years of implementation of GST and whether it’s helpdesk is really user friendly and in position to address the issues properly and in time.

Text of reply by GSTN to RTI is as follows:-

File No. CPIO/RTI/2021/GSTN/119
Dated: 18th June, 2021.

To,

Shri Saurin Bharatbhai Shah ,
B503 Tirupati Plaza,
Beside Collector Office,
Nanpura, Surat, Gujarat
Pin 395001

Sub.: Your RTI Application no. CBECE/R/T/21/00578 dated 05.05.2021 under RTI Act, 2005.

Sir,

With reference to your abovementioned RTI application received upon transfer from CPIO & Under Secretary (CX 9 Section), Government of India, Ministry of finance, Department of Revenue, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, New Delhi on 21.05.2021,point wise response to information sought by you is as follows:-

SI. No. Information sought by RTI
Applicant
Information provided by CPIO
1 Has any Annual Return been brought to unfilled stage after its filing? If yes, how many till date and what is the reason for it? The information sought by you at S.no 1 & 2 is not maintained by GSTN in the form it has been sought for. In order to provide this information, GSTN will have to process the entire GST System data of returns filed across several financial years. This would disproportionately divert the resources GSTN. Hence/ the desired information cannot be provided to you under section 7(9) of the RTI Act, 2005.

Further the applicant has not specified any larger public interest behind disclosure of such information.

In Kishur J. Aggarwal v. UCO Bank Appeal No. 24/IC(A)/2006 dated 10.5.2006 the CIC held that an information seeker ought to keep in mind the cost effectiveness aspects of disclosure of information. The expected benefits from disclosure of information should invariably outweigh the costs of providing it. He is therefore directed to minimize and prioritise his information needs which can be provided without unduly jeopardizing the normal activities of the Bank, as the information is to be provided within the stipulated period of 30 days.

2 Has any GSTR 1 or GSTR3B been brought to unfilled/ submitted stage after it’s filing? If yes, how many till date and what is the reason for it ? How many email were sent with subject “Refilling of GSTR I Form filling for GSTN 10/2019”? Why?
3 As & when GSTN acknowledge issue of someone reply that their technical team will contact
them, is GSTN maintaining any register for it to keep track? After tweeting this have they contacted anyone? How many? If not why? How many people’s issue is resolved by contact?
Kindly provide monthly details as under :-

  • Number of acknowled-gement
  • Number of people contacted on phone only
  • Number of people contacted by email only
  • Number of issue resolved
  • Number of issue unresolved

 

Yes. When the taxpayers raises an issue on the help-desk they are given a ticket number which is monitored by GSTN. The taxpayers can also track the resolution of their ticket number. Call back is made only in certain cases where further details are required from the taxpayer.

This information sought by you is vague. The details of the tweet i.e. twitter handle that has tweeted, time etc. has not been specified. Hence/the said information cannot be provided to you on account of the query being vague. Further, the RTI Act does not expect the CPIO to provide answers to queries which are not on record. As stated above, for tickets raised on help-desk a call back is made only in certain cases where further details are required from the taxpayer. Twitter, is not a grievance redressal mechanism. When any grievance is raised on GSTN’s official twitter handle pertaining to technical issue of the GST Portal, the taxpayer is encouraged to lodge a complaint through Help-desk/ Grievance Redressal Portal. This helps in providing a comprehensive resolution to the taxpayer as the taxpayers can submit relevant documents/ screenshots through these mechanisms.

It may be noted that GSTN provides a robust help desk to assist the taxpayer with the resolution of technical issues faced by them on the GST Portal. It is a complete solution to provide clarifications and resolution of GST portal related technical issues and queries of taxpayers. The process of redressal is explained below.

1. Access to Help Desk:

a. The taxpayers can make telephonic calls to the help desk on a toll free number 1800-103-4786 for resolution of the issues.

b. The taxpayers are also provided with a facility to raise their issues via link: https://selfservice.gstsystem.in. This link is available on GST Portal (https://www.gst.gov.in). They can attach screen shots and other relevant material to describe the issue faced by them. They are then given a ticket number to track the issue.

The agents at the first level try to respond to the taxpayer queries with the information available with them. If the first level agent is unable to resolve the problem of taxpayers, for e.g. on account of a technical glitch, they raise a ticket to technical team for resolution of the issues.

As a process, appropriate action is taken on all tickets raised, if complete information is provided on the issue reported. If the taxpayer expresses dissatisfaction on resolution, they can reopen the ticket and the issue would be reconsidered. Under exceptional circumstances, if the issue is unresolved for a considerable amount of time, ticket number helps to track the journey of the ticket. Call back is made only in certain cases where further details are required from the taxpayer.

c. Taxpayers also have access to FAQs/ User Manuals in the help section (https://services.gst.gov.in/services/HelpandTaxpay-eellelpandTaxpayerfacilities) of the GST Portal and GITA (Chatbot) is also available.

GSTN in order to assist the taxpayers had however, initially tried to get in touch with a few taxpayers who had tweeted their grievances on Twitter. But it was seen that the grievance redressal was not possible in any of the cases as the screen shots and other details of the grievance could not be obtained on twitter and therefore, GSTN as a policy encourages taxpayers to lodge their grievance through the helpdesk so that the taxpayers can be given proper redressal of their grievances.

4 As & when
GSTN acknowledge issue of someone & reply that their
technical team
will get back to
them, are they
maintaining any
register for it to keep track?
After tweeting this technical
team of GSTN
has got back to how many
people? If not
why?
5 Kindly provide monthly figures from July 17 to March 21
showing figures of total GSTR 1 and GSTR3B filed along with number segregating one filed through
GSTP and one by other than GSTP.
The information sought by RTI applicant at S.no 5 is not readily available in the form sought for by you. However, information relating to GSTR-1 ad GSTR-3B filed is available in public domain and the same can be accessed on the following link:

https://www.gst.gov. in/download/gststatisties

6 Kindly provide monthly figures of above period showing the number of returns which were submitted on one day but filed on another day or stuck at submitted stage even today.

Also provide reason for delay if it is available.

The information sought by RTI applicant at S.no 6 & 7 is not readily available with GSTN. In order to provide this information, GSTN will have to process the entire GST System data of returns and refunds filed across several financial yearj for generating the required 04ta. This woold would disproportionately divert the resources GSTN. Hence the desired information cannot be provided to you under section 7(9) of the RTI Act, 2005.

Further the applicant has not specified any larger public interest behind/ disclosure of such information.

In Kishur J. Aggarwal v. UCO Bank Appeal No. 24/IC(A)I2006 dated 10.5.2006 the CIC held that an information seeker ought to keep in mind the cost effectiveness aspects of disclosure of information. The expected benefits from disclosure of information should invariably outweigh the costs of providing it. He is therefore directed to minimize and prioritise his information needs which can be provided without unduly jeopardizing the normal activities of the Bank, as the information is to be provided within the stipulated period of 30 days.

7 Figures on monthly basis for July 17 to March 20 in respect of following :-

  • No of refund application received & amt involved
  • No of refund application processed in 60 day of receipt & amt involved
  • No of refund application rejected & amount thereof

b. In case you are dissatisfied with the information, you may file an appeal to First Appellate Authority Shri Dheeraj Rastogi Senior Vice President (Services), Goods and Services Tax Network, East Wing, 4th Floor, World Mark – 1, Aerocity, New Delhi — 110037.

Yours sincerely,

(S. Mohan)
CPIO, GSTN)

Copy for information:

(1) Shri Manas Mondal, CPIO & Under Secretary(CX 9 Section),Government of India, Ministry of finance ,Department of Revenue, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, Room no.267D, North Block, New Delhi -110001.

Download RTI Reply Copy

Author Bio

Qualification: CA in Practice
Company: Saurin Shah & Co
Location: Surat, Gujarat, India
Member Since: 06 Jul 2017 | Total Posts: 1

More Under Goods and Services Tax

11 Comments

  1. CA. C V SURYAM says:

    Dear Mr. Saurin Shah,
    I too had bitter experience with RTI on my questions about efficacy and other issues of GSTIN. If you could provide your email, I would like to share with you the same alongwith reply.

  2. R Prakash says:

    Perfectly beautiful official verbiage, reminds me of “Yes, Minister”. If you can still make some sense out it, it’s not their fault, but maybe a shortcoming.
    We should appreciate the drafting, rather than complaining, even if it leaves you no wiser, the answers are better than the questions.

    Government departments, generally, do not wish to share information because “sunshine” encourages transparency, it’s not me, the highest court of the land has said so.

    RTI is an inconvenient provision, passed under pressure of civil rights activists, or maybe a naive political leadership. So there has been a great pushback in the recent past.
    No doubt, though, that many people have misused the empowerment, as in case of other legal rights too.

    And, by the way, if you recall the Panchtantra stories, written for educating certain princes, there is one about the interaction between the lion and the sheep, do you remember who is right.
    And – it is “always”…….

  3. N S HARITE says:

    You are right. It appears that there is no systems audit of GSTIN, inspite of the massive public money spent on it. The so called help desks are also a waste of tax payers money, they cant resolve anything. GSTIN simply doesnt want grievances/RTI, because of their never ending delays, goof ups and systems failures. Just a couple of examples, till today, neither can GSTR summary for 2020-21 be generated nor GSTR9 can be filed. And those whose turnover was below 5 crores in FY 2020-21 are unable to opt for QRMP scheme because the portal goes by FY 2019-20 turnover.

  4. RAM YES SAADH says:

    Please go and read provisions of RTI Act. The Author wishes to use those provisions for his business use at the cost of Taxpayer. Why condemning the provisions of law? Who is paying Tax ultimately, the consumer and the Taxpayer has been granted authority to collect the Tax from its customer. Is Taxpayer is paying Tax out of his pocket? It is a business model. Also the Taxpayer is allowed to deposit tax till 20th day of the monthTax related to and the recipient is allowed to ITC of Tax before it is paid to the GST account.An Accounts professional never gives credit of any money before it is paid and you alleging the Govt. like anything ? Surely you are running low on you business or profession and thus expressing frustration.

  5. RAM YES SAADH says:

    Shri Shah, It is your misunderstanding of RTI law. When, why, how are not RTI queries. You can ask for the information available, maintained or can be derived easily from the available resources. To satiate your business /profession you taking help of provisions of RTI Act, 2005 and reply by the CPIO is correct. Don’t malign the RTIAct or GSTN for your self interests.

  6. SUDARSHAN MEHTA says:

    outdated laws are submerged to form a new law is same as “Old wine in a new Bottle”.
    no transparency but promised to be a transparent law, simpler law

  7. SUDARSHAN MEHTA says:

    the government or their agencies can be evasive. only the tax payer or his tax practitioner/auditors/C.A. etc should not be evasive. the former will take shelter under by quoting various reasons, case laws or showing inability due to unspecified reasons but a tax payer cannot take any shelter inspite of having genuine reasons or due to serious problems. it is one sided law where the tax payers are given opportunity to be heard but will definitely go to deaf ears. the whole burocracy and the system is governed by the outdated rules where tax payer is always a criminal and tax evader.

  8. ANTONY KUNDUKULAM says:

    GSTN HAS NO TENSION AT ALL, BECAUSE NOBODY IS GOING TO QUESTION THEM. ONLY TAX PAYERS WILL BE ASKED TO PAY FOR THE FAULT OF GSTN.

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