Notices to Centre, CAG on PIL over GST compensation act

The Bombay High Court today issued notices to the Centre, Maharashtra government and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of laws facilitating various kinds of cess under the Goods and Services Tax regime.

A bench of Justices Shantanu Kemkar and Rajesh Ketkar was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a law teacher, challenging the validity of the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Act, 2017, and 15 other laws related to the compensation cess.

As per petitioner Ashrita Kotha, the compensation act was introduced to levy additional cess on certain goods such as luxury cars, coal and schemes such as the Swachh Bharat to make good the losses to states in the first five years.

However, the Union government's own rules mandate that a cess can be levied only for a specific purpose and its proceeds cannot be shared with the states.

At the time of the passage of the GST Act, the government never proposed to introduce new cess, hence the compensation act and related acts should be examined for their validity, said the petition filed through advocate S B Talekar.