The Bombay High Court has said the Goods and Services Tax (GST), though "highly publicised" by the Union government, was "not tax-friendly."
A bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre said, "A tax like GST was highly publicised and termed as popular. These celebrations mean nothing. The special sessions of Parliament or special or extraordinary meetings of council would mean nothing to the assesees unless they obtain easy access to the website and portals. The regime is not tax friendly."
The observations came while the bench was hearing a petition filed by Abicor and Benzel Technoweld Pvt Ltd, a company engaged in the manufacture of robotic and automation equipment.
The petitioner had claimed that it was unable to access its online profile on the Goods and Service Tax Network, without which it was unable to generate e-way bills, and was unable to move its goods anywhere.
The petitioner argued that while the Union government had decided to put in place an automated and electronic system of accepting tax returns based on self-assessment, without access to its online profile, it was unable to file its tax returns, pay tax, move its goods, or undertake any other compliances that were required under the GST rules.
To this, the bench said it had come across several other petitions in different courts with grievances against GST. The bench said that it hoped the Union government would "wake up" and take corrective measures.
"We do not think that this is a satisfactory state of affairs. The hue and cry around it, the special Parliament sessions will mean nothing for the assesees unless they obtain easy access to the websites and portals under the new tax network.
"We hope that those in charge of the implementation of this new law will wake up now and put in place the requisite mechanism," the bench said.
"This is necessary to preserve the image, prestige, and reputation of this country. We hope that such petitions are a rarity and that this court will not be called upon to administer the implementation of the new tax law," it said.
The court has directed the Union government to file an affidavit responding to the petition by February 16 this year.