IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION NO. 8023 OF 2013
Sales Tax Tribunal Bar Association & Ors.
State of Maharashtra through
Principal Finance Secretary …Respondents
Mr. P.V. Surve, Mr. P.C. Joshi, Mr. Ratan Sakpal, Ms.Nikita Badheca,
Mr.V.P.Pathkar, Mr. C.B. Thakar and Mr. Hemant Save for petitioners.
Mr. S.K. Shinde, G.P., with Mr. A.B. Vagyani, AGP for Respondent State.
CORAM : MOHIT S. SHAH, C.J. &
M.S. SANKLECHA, J.
DATE : 06 September 2013
The Sales Tax Tribunal Bar Association in the State of Maharashtra has filed this Writ Petition seeking certain directions relating to appointment of members of the Sales Tax Tribunal under the Maharashtra Value Added Tax Act, 2002.
2. At present there are 5 Benches of the Sales Tax Tribunal, but on account of the vacancies in the post of Members, at present only 1 Bench is functional. It is surprising that the State Government has not realised that sales tax revenue to the extent of about Rs.4,500 crores is locked up on account of litigation pending before the Sales Tax Tribunal.
3. The petitioner association has invited our attention to the fact that even when retired District Judges are appointed as Members of the Sales Tax Tribunal they do not wish to continue on account of not being provided with residential accommodation. Very recently one Member (originally belonging to Judicial service) has tendered resignation only in view of absence of residential accommodation in Mumbai.
4. On account of the above difficulty of accommodation not being provided to the retired Judges who are appointed as Members, the High Court on the administrative side also finds it difficult to obtain willingness of retired Judges for appointment as Members of the Sales Tax Tribunal.
5. Mr. Shinde, learned Government Pleader states that the proposal for providing accommodation to one Judicial Member of the Sales Tax Tribunal (who has tendered his resignation which has not been accepted) is under consideration of the State Government at the highest level.
6. It would be desirable for the State Government to provide residential accommodation to all the Members of the Tribunal so as to ensure proper functioning of the Tribunal.
7. Another difficulty which has been pointed out by the petitioner Association is that the retirement age for Members of the Sales Tax Tribunal is only 62 years and only the President of the Tribunal retires at the age of 65 years. It is submitted that since the retirement age for Judicial Officer is now 60 years, by the time a retired Judge is appointed as a Member of the Tribunal, he is already 60 years and 6 months old or may be 61 years old and, therefore, he does not get sufficiently long tenure to effectively discharge duties as a Member of the Sales Tax Tribunal. It is submitted that when the retirement age of the President of Tribunal is 65 years, there is no reason why the other Members of the Tribunal should not be given retirement age of 65 years.
8. It appears that the suggestion being made on behalf of the Sales Tax Tribunal Bar Association is quite reasonable and the State Government may consider the same at the earliest.
9. The State Government shall consider both the above issues as expeditiously as possible and preferably within one month from today.
10. Stand over to 17 October 2013. To be listed in the supplementary board.
M.S. SANKLECHA, J.