Advocate Akhilesh Kumar Sah
Since the inception of the GST taxpayers as well as practitioners are facing different type of problems. Many small business houses are on the verge of closure. There is only one portal of GST for all over India and due to 100% e-system related persons are facing difficulties. There are many procedural problems apart from rates, forms, etc. The time to time changes by GST Council is acceptance to the above facts. Recently, the Bombay High Court has well observed the problems in Abicor and Binzel Technoweld Pvt. Ltd vs. UOI [W.P. (L) No. 2230 of 2018, decided on 06.02.2018]. Briefly, in the above-mentioned appeal, the petitioner company was engaged in manufacturing of robotic and automation equipment.
The purpose of filing the above-mentioned petition was the petitioner having been granted a provisional registration number under the Central Goods and Services Tax act, 2017 and the Maharashtra Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017, is not able to access its online profile on the Goods and Service Tax Network. There was no fault or negligence on the part of the petitioner. The petitioner says that it is the respondents who have decided to put in place an automated and electronic system of accepting tax returns based on self assessment. The petitioner argued that the Electronic Way Bills Rules have yet to come into force. Therefore, without access to the online profile, the petitioner could not generate E-way bills. Without such E-way bills, the petitioner will not be allowed to move the goods anywhere and that will paralyse its business. Lack of access would mean that the petitioner is unable to file return or pay tax or undertake any other compliances required by the statute. Such lack of access to the online profile also inhibits the petitioner from securing the final registration number. In the absence thereof, the petitioner was exposed to interest liability and may have to face even penal consequences. Importantly, the petitioner as well as its customers were unable to avail input tax credit mechanism.
The learned Judges of the Bombay High Court observed that we do not think that these are satisfactory state of affairs. A tax like Goods and Services Tax was highly publicised and termed as popular. We had yet not seen a celebration of New Tax regime, but that has followed with great hue and cry. These celebrations mean nothing. The special sessions of Parliament or special or extraordinary meetings of Council would mean nothing to the assessees unless they obtain easy access to the website and portals. The regime is not tax friendly. We hope and trust that those in charge of implementation and administration of this law will at least now wake up and put in place the requisite mechanism. This is necessary to preserve the image, prestige and reputation of this country, particularly when we are inviting and welcoming foreign investment in the State and the country. We hope and trust that such petitions are rarity and the Court will not be called upon to administer the implementation of the law, leave alone monitoring and supervising the working of the individual officials, howsoever high ranking he may be.
The above decision of the Bombay High Court is the welcome decision recognizing the problems in respect of GST.