The second NEC meeting was well attended with active participation from all the members. I thank each and every member for their valuable contribution. The conference at Indore was well planned by the Central Zone team headed by Shri Vinay Jolly. The efforts by the two stalwarts of the Central Zone, our past president, Shri Ganesh Purohit and Shri Pankaj Ghiya, an active and dynamic NEC member, must be applauded. The delegates present were enriched by the technical sessions.
The last week of January 2020 was more than troublesome to the tax consultants practising GST. The GSTN functioning erratically and also not functioning at majority of places in India created an utter chaotic situation showing absolute lack of preparedness by the Centre. On the evening of 31st January 2020 a call was taken in consultation with the immediate past president, Dr. Ashok Saraf, to challenge the provisions under the GST Act especially in view of the fact that the GST authorities did not pay any heed to the request by multiple associations throughout India to extend the time for filing the annual return in Form-9 and audit report in Form-9C. A permission was sought by
Dr. Saraf from the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court for opening the Court on Saturday 1st January 2020 being holiday. The permission was granted late at night. Thanks to the dedication and devotion by immediate Past President, Senior Advocate Dr. Saraf and his team that a writ petition was prepared overnight as the hearing was fixed on Saturday 1st February at 9.30 am. Inputs about practical aspects received from the members were forwarded by me to Dr. Saraf and final PIL was ready. The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court heard the petition, however, since the Government had extended the time by few days, the matter was adjourned to Tuesday, 4th February after detailed hearing of the submissions made by Dr. Saraf. The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Guwahati High Court directed submitting a representation by AIFTP on e-mail to the concerned authorities, seeking extension of time by 30 days. The Hon’ble Court directed the authority to consider the extension of time by one month for north-east region. The Court having jurisdiction in north-east region could not have directed to have extension throughout the region. The Indirect Taxes Committee headed by Shri H. L. Madan prepared and uploaded a representation on the same day. The members are aware, thereafter, Rajasthan High Court and Madras High Court passed similar orders.
Although the time is extended by a few days and majority may have complied with the filing of Form-9 & audit report in Form-9C, the fact remains there is complete failure on the part of the authorities to take care of the technical glitches to which the attention was drawn by various emails from the tax payers. The problem continues today also. The chairman of the West Zone, Shri Bhaskar Patel and his team had a silent protest against the technical glitches before the Principal Chief Commissioner CGST, Ahmedabad along with the other local organizations on 18th February 2020. While I am writing this, the Chief Commissioner has invited our Chairman and heads of other other local associations to amicably look into the technical problems.
The month of February started with the budget presentation by the Hon’ble Finance Minister. Numerous amendments under the Direct Taxes are critically evaluated by our team of Direct Tax Representation Committee. Detailed representation is sent by the Committee on the amendment to the Income Tax Act and also on the ‘Vivad se Vishwas’ scheme. The representation made by the Federation on Direct & Indirect Taxes would be uploaded on the AIFTP website. The members can refer to the same.
As regards representation under the Indirect Tax, the Chairman of the Indirect Taxes Committee, Shri H. L. Madan has submitted a detailed representation on GST. In addition, when the Hon’ble Finance Minister, Shri Nirmala Seetharaman, personally visited Hyderabad, a representation is made by the Vice Chairman-Indirect Tax Committee, Shri S. S. Satyanarayan. One more representation was given by the Dy. President Shri Seethapathi Rao, along with past president Shri M. V. K. Moorthy.
A writ petition challenging the provisions of GST is filed at Telengana High Court. The interim directions are sought for enabling known filers of GSTR-9 & 9C to file the same without payment of late fee in view of the order no. 1/2020 GST dated 7th February 2020 extending the due date of GSTR-1 till 31-03-2020. A speaking order is expected shortly.
One more important issue which needs immediate attention is the move by the Government to appoint the Hon’ble Member of ITAT for a fixed tenure of 4 years. AIFTP has in past two occasions strongly opposed this move. Our past president, Dr. K. Shivaram in consultation with the Office Bearers will look into the modalities of challenging this provision.
I am happy to inform that the membership of the AIFTP has crossed the mark of 8,500. The National Executive Committee in its meeting on 8th February 2020 has decided to postpone the increase in subscription fees from ₹ 2,500/- to ₹ 5,000/- till 1st April 2020. I am sure, we will be able to many more members by that time.
Meanwhile, the zones are busy organizing the study circles and one-day seminars at different places. On 6th March 2020, a one-day seminar on Direct & Indirect Taxes is organized at Junagadh by West Zone.
The journal in your hand is a budget special issue with critical analysis of each and every aspect of the budget. I must put on record the special efforts put in by the Assistant Editor, Shri Nisit Gandhi in designing this budget special issue. I thank all the contributors for their critical analysis of the various aspects of the budget.
I invite all of you to attend the next two-day conference which is scheduled to take place at Mahabaleswar on 11th & 12th April 2020 along with the National Executive Committee Meeting. Mahabaleswar is a hill station around 2 hours drive from Pune.
Nikita R. Badheka
National President, AIFTP
19 February 2020