Questioning the pomp and show around GST launch last year, the Bombay High Court has said it means nothing if the indirect tax regime is not assessee-friendly and riddled with technical glitches.
The court made this remark while hearing a petition filed by robotic and automation equipment manufacturer Abicor and Binzel Technoweld, which complained about technical errors in the GST portal.
The company claimed it failed to file online returns due to a systems crash. “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 have seen a celebration of the new tax regime and that was 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 court observed.
In its petition, Abicor and Binzel Technoweld maintained that the company was granted the final registration number and the profile was made operational after it filed the case, but it could not file the necessary return, particularly the Return GSTR3B. It further said that payment of tax is not possible without this return.
“This return is not being accepted without payment of late fee for the period from October 2017 onwards,” the petitioner said.
The court has directed the indirect tax authorities to work out the necessary mechanism and put it in place. Further, they must also set up and establish a grievance redressal mechanism.
The court also came down heavily on the tax department’s response to the problem and said that the issue raised in the petition cannot be left unresolved till the next GST Council meeting.
“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,” the HC said.
In a major embarrassment to the Centre, the E-way system of the GST crashed the day it was launched. This made it difficult for businesses to generate the digital pass required for moving goods from one state to the other leading to huge losses.
The Centre has now deferred the implementation of the anti-evasion provision indefinitely.