After Delhi and Guwahati High Court, Andhra Pradesh High Court also stayed stayed the operation of a central government”s notification to levy service tax from practising advocates.

Pursuant to a Writ Petition challenging the imposition of service tax on lawyers and the prayer seeking interim relief by way of “restraining the Respondents from giving effect to directly or indirectly or acting upon the impugned provisions or collecting any service tax on the assistance provided as an officer of the Court by an advocate”, the Andhra Pradesh High Court vide order dated 18.5.2011 has ordered “Since it is represented that the other High Courts have already granted stay in similar circumstances, there shall be interim stay, until further orders”

The vacation bench comprising justice B Prakasa Rao and justice V Eswaraiah issued the order on Wednesday on a plea filed by HC advocates M V J K Kumar and three others who challenged the Centre’s decision in this regard.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes ( CBDT) is levying the service tax on the advocates following the recent amendment of the Finance Act that brought the services of the advocates under the purview of service tax.

Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel M V K Moorthy told the court that the advocates discharge their duties as officers of the court. “Law is no trade and brief is not a merchandise,” he said. He also brought to the notice of the court that several high courts had already stayed this move all over the country. The bench agreed and stayed the levy of service tax on the services of the advocates.

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