A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court today commenced hearing to examine the validity of separate entry taxes on goods mandated by various state government statutes, without heeding to the plea of the Centre to wait for the passage of GST Bill in Parliament.
As the Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur assembled to hear the matter, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi pleaded that the issue be put on hold till the passage of pending GST (Goods and Services Tax) Bill which would subsume the tax law under challenge.
However, the bench also comprising Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde, Shiva Kirti Singh, N V Ramana, R Banumathi, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan decided to go ahead with the hearing, saying that “complex tax issues are involved”.
It said issues related to past levies by the States will be decided in the matter.
The Attorney General submitted that some arrangement could be made in respect to past demands by the states relating to entry tax after GST Bill, involving a Constitution amendment, was passed by Parliament.
Entry tax is imposed by state governments on movement of goods from one state to another. It is levied by the state that receives goods.
The entry tax provisions of various states has been challenged by some companies on the ground that they are against the concept of free trade and commerce under Article 301 (freedom of trade commerce and intercourse with the territory of India) of the Constitution.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, who has been representing some companies in the matter, is leading the arguments.
The bench would be revisiting two judgements passed by the apex court in 1960 and 1962 on the issue.
The decision to refer the case to the larger bench came during the hearing of matters filed by companies, including Vedanta Aluminium Ltd, Essar Steel Ltd, Tata Steel Ltd, Adani Enterprises Ltd and the Odisha government.
Jindal Stainless Ltd had brought the matter way back in 2002 when the company had challenged the validity of the Haryana Local Area Development Tax Act, 2000.
(Source : PTI)