Parliament Approves Crucial GST Tribunal Amendments, Enhancing Appellate System

The recent passage of the Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023, by the Indian Parliament marks a significant step in strengthening the GST Appellate Tribunals (GSTAT). The bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha after being cleared by the Lok Sabha. Here’s a detailed overview of the key features and implications of this legislative update:

Key Features of the Bill

  1. Increased Age Limits:
    • President of GST Appellate Tribunal: The bill proposes raising the upper age limit to 70 years from the current 67 years.
    • Members of the Tribunal: The age limit is proposed to increase from 65 to 67 years.
    • Minimum Age for Eligibility: The minimum age for eligibility for appointment as president and member is set at 50 years​​.
  2. Eligibility Criteria for Advocates:
    • The bill allows advocates with a minimum of 10 years of experience in litigation under indirect tax laws to be eligible for appointment as a member of the tribunal. This experience can be in the Appellate Tribunal, Central Excise and Service Tax Tribunal, State VAT Tribunals, High Court, or Supreme Court​​​​.
  3. Qualifications for Presidency of GSTAT:
    • A candidate for the president of the GST Appellate Tribunal must be a Judge of the Supreme Court, or has been the Chief Justice of a High Court, or has been a Judge of a High Court for at least five years​​.
  4. Alignment with Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021:
    • The amendments align the provisions of the Central GST Act, 2017, with the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021, especially in terms of the appointment of presidents and members of the GST Appellate Tribunals​​.
  5. Establishment of Tribunals:
    • 31 benches of the tribunal are to be set up in 28 states and union territories across India. The establishment of these tribunals was envisioned with the implementation of the GST regime in July 2017 but had been pending for over six years​​.

Implications and Significance

  1. Streamlining the Appellate Process:
    • Prior to the establishment of GSTAT, taxpayers seeking appellate remedies had to approach the High Courts directly, leading to increased burdens on these courts. The functioning of GSTAT will streamline the process and offer a more specialized forum for GST-related disputes​​.
  2. Broadening the Pool of Eligible Candidates:
    • By allowing experienced advocates to be eligible for membership, the bill broadens the pool of candidates. This is expected to bring diverse expertise and insights into the tribunal’s functioning, enhancing its effectiveness.
  3. Aligning with Legal Reforms:
    • The amendments bring the GST Appellate Tribunals in line with broader legal reforms, ensuring consistency and coherence in the legal framework governing tribunals in India.
  4. Enhancing Efficiency and Accessibility:
    • The establishment of multiple tribunals across the country is anticipated to make the appellate process more accessible and efficient, thereby reducing delays and improving the quality of justice delivery in GST matters.
  5. Impact on Tax Dispute Resolution:
    • The strengthened and more inclusive structure of the GSTAT is likely to have a positive impact on the resolution of tax disputes, making the process more efficient and taxpayer-friendly.


The Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023, represents a crucial development in India’s tax administration. By enhancing the GST Appellate Tribunals, the amendments aim to create a more robust, efficient, and accessible system for resolving GST disputes, thereby contributing to the smoother functioning of the country’s tax framework.



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