The Bombay High Court has said that the Goods And Services Tax (GST) regime was not user-friendly and has asked those responsible for its implementation to resolve glitches that has resulted in widespread frustration on the part of companies trying to file returns.
The GST Network has suffered repeated disruption as administrators have worked to remove the bugs in the system which underpins the new tax framework launched on July 1.
The GST Council has set up a panel headed by Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Modi to examine the IT issues. The issues have resulted in several extensions being provided in regards to the filing of forms and has delayed the rollout of the e-way bill for transport of goods
No Cause For Celebrations
Calling the situation, “not a satisfactory state of affairs ,” the judges of the high court has urged that the focus must be on resolving the problems in a reform that was heralded with much fanfare by the government.
It further pointed out the various special sessions of Parliament or special or extraordinary meetings of (the GST) council mean nothing to the assesses “unless they obtain easy access to the website and portals.”
The court has directed the government to file its response by February 20, which is the next date of hearing. The government has also been asked to inform the court of the steps been taken to address taxpayer grievances concerning the GST Network.
The court has expressed hope that it would not be called upon to supervise the implementation of the law.
Exposed To Penalties And Fines
The court made the remarks while was hearing a petition submitted by Abicor and Binzel Technoweld.
The petitioner, who is a robotics and automation equipment manufacturer, moved the HC after it could not access its online profile even after being granted a provisional registration number under the central and Maharashtra GST Acts.
The petitioner stated as a result it could not get its final registration number which exposes it to interest liabilities and penal consequences.
The court observed that similar grievances had been raised before the Allahabad High Court.
In that case, the Allahabad HC has directed the revenue authorities to reopen the portal and if that could not be done, then to process the applicant’s petition manually and pass orders as needed regarding credits before the court.
The Bombay High court said if there was no progress shown by the authorities in the situation, then it would also be forced to pass similar orders which may even extend beyond the specific petitioner.
System Needs Extensive Testing
According to MS Mani, partner, Deloitte India, the system needs to be tested in full to ensure that it can handle all “future taxpayer interfaces” like as e-way bill or credit matching.
Pratik Jain, indirect tax leader, PwC highlighted that the Bombay HC ruling is significant as the GST administration depends on technology and such issues have been coming up repeatedly.
He further added that while “a world-class IT infrastructure” has been created, given the volume of transactions, it may need time to “stabilise. He suggested that the government put in place some sort of mechanism to deal with the taxpayers’ grievances.