1. We have heard the learned counsels on behalf of the petitioners of Sales Tax Bar Association as well as Mr. Harpreet Singh, learned counsel for Respondent No. 3 and also learned counsel for the respondent No. 4 at some length.
2. During the course of hearing, learned counsel for the petitioner has highlighted several grievances with regard to the functioning of the GSTN system. Some of the issues highlighted relates to the technical and procedural aspects. The respondents must resolve these issues after understanding the difficulties that they are posing to the users. Learned counsels for the respondent Nos. 3 and 4 states that the said respondents are ready and willing to address all procedural and technical issues. This Court vide order dated 12.09.2019 in W.P. (C) 10284/2018, has already directed the petitioners to raise all their grievances in relation to the working of the GST Network, including those not raised in that petition, in bullet points and to place the same before the respondents, following which meetings would be held between the representatives of all stakeholders including the petitioners, with a view to resolve all such issues. Therefore, we direct to petitioners to incorporate all the technical and procedural issues raised in the present writ petition as well in their bullet point presentation.
3. In relation to some of these issues, the stand of the respondents is that they are legal issues, which would need determination of this Court. Learned counsel for the petitioner and Mr. Harpreet Singh state that he shall identify the legal issues which require determination by this Court. Let the legal issues be identified and placed before this Court on the next date.
4. The grievance of the petitioner is that there is no effective IT Grievance Redressal Mechanism in place, and whenever the assessee /members of the petitioner’s association have sought to address their grievances, they were met with disappointment.
5. The respondents have issued a circular No. 39/13/2018-GST dated 03.04.2018 for the purpose of setting up an IT Grievance Redressal Mechanism to address the grievances of tax payers due to technical glitches on GST Portal. The scope of this IT GRM is stated as follows;-
Problems which are proposed to be addressed through this mechanism would essentially be those which relate Common Portal (GST Portal) and affect a large section of taxpayers. Where the problem relates to individual taxpayer, due to localised issues such as non-availability of internet connectivity or failure of power supply, this mechanism shall not be available.”
6. It also provides in the mechanism for resolution by the IT-Grievance Redressal Committee and appointment of Nodal Officers in Clause 4 & 5 as under:-
“4. IT-Grievance Redressal Committee
Any issue which needs to be addressed through this mechanism shall be identified by GSTN and the method of resolution approved by the GST Implementation Committee (GIC) which shall act as the IT Grievance Redressal Committee. In GIC meetings convened to address IT issues or IT glitches, the CEO, GSTN and the DG (Systems), CBEC shall participate in these meetings as special invitees.
5. Nodal officers and identification of issues
5.1 GSTN, Central and State government would appoint nodal officers in requisite number to address the problem a taxpayer faces due to glitches, if any, in the Common Portal.
This would be publicized adequately.
5.2 Taxpayers shall make an application to the field officers or the nodal officers where there was a demonstrable glitch on the Common Portal in relation to an identified issue, due to which the due process as envisaged in law could not be completed on the Common Portal.
5.3 Such an application shall enclose evidences as may be needed for an identified issue to establish bonafide attempt on the part of the taxpayer to comply with the due process of law.
5.4 These applications shall be collated by the nodal officer and forwarded to GSTN who would on receipt of application examine the same. GSTN shall after verifying its electronic records and the applications received, identify the issue involved where a large section of tax payers are affected. GSTN shall forward the same to the IT Grievance Redressal Committee with suggested solutions for resolution of the problem”
7. Harpreet Singh, learned Sr. Standing Counsel states that the Nodal Officers and the Committee notified as per the above noted circular are competent, and have the necessary infrastructure to address the issues that may be raised by the petitioner and others including individuals, from time to time. He submits that the scope of the circular is not confined only to grievances related to filing of TRAN-1 Forms. It also covers other related issues. Taking into consideration the nature of the difficulties being faced by the petitioner; its members, and, other tax payers, we direct the respondents to circulate on their website the enlarged scope of IT-Grievance Redressal Committee.
8. The committee shall look into, even individual grievances related to the working of the GST Network because, though they may be raised by individuals, they may relate to many others similarly situated. The e-mail IDs and telephone numbers of the nodal officers should be widely circulated including on the GST Website; Delhi GST website and CBIC website. The grievances which are received at the level of the Nodal Officer should be compiled, and a status report in relation to the said grievances should be displayed on the concerned websites on a fortnightly basis. The same should contain information with regard to the substance of the grievances made; the date of which it made; the action taken on the said grievance, the status as to whether the same is resolved, pending, or not; and if the same is not resolved, the reason for it not being so resolved. It should also indicate the approximate time in which the grievance is likely to be resolved. If the grievance is rejected, for whatever reason, the status of it being rejected, and the reason for rejection should also been indicated. The grievances raised by the public at large or by the petitioner association should be redressed as early as possible, and preferably within two weeks of the same being so raised.
9. Learned counsel for the respondent No.4 states that they shall also upload a list of the operationalized forms on the GST Network. This exercise should be completed within next 10 days.
10. Learned counsel for the GSTN states that she has prepared an affidavit in terms of the last order which shall be filed by tomorrow. Let the same be done with an advance copy to the petitioner. The aforesaid directions should be implemented in the next four weeks. List on 15.10.2019.
11. The copy of this order given dasti under the signature of the Court Master.