UT opposes plea on consulting HC in VAT Tribunal appointments

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SummaryThe petitioner says the statute requires admin to appoint three members in addition to chairman

The Chandigarh Administration on Friday opposed a petition demanding mandatory consultation with the high court prior to appointing members or chairman of the VAT Tribunal.

At present, the adviser to the UT Administrator is working as chairman of the tribunal and no other member has been appointed. Petitioner Advocate HC Arora, in his petition, however, argued that the statute requires the Administration to appoint three members in addition to the chairman.

Counsel for Administration contended that consultation with the high court may be required if a retired judge of the high court is appointed as chairman of the tribunal.

Vikas Miglani, a lawyer from Panchkula, in his PIL demanded that similar directions be issued to Haryana to appoint a chairman or member to the VAT Tribunal only after prior consultation with the high court.

The petitioner had moved the high court demanding quashing of appointments of existing chairman and members of the said tribunal on the ground of non-consultation with the high court.

Hawa Singh Hooda, advocate general, Haryana argued that no consultation was required with the HC, in the matter of appointment of chairman or members of the Haryana Tax Tribunal, as the statute does not provide for such consultation.

Arora argued that proposition submitted by UT counsel is dangerous. The decision of the UT Administration to appoint a serving bureaucrat as chairman of UT Chandigarh VAT Tribunal amounts to ‘not selecting a retired Judge’ as chairman. Thus, the administration can by-pass the requirement of consultation with high court, by never considering the name of a retired judge for the chairman post and always appoint a serving or retired bureaucrat.

Interestingly, during the fag end of the proceedings, a dozen of advocates (who stated that they are practicing in Haryana Tax Tribunal) suddenly submitted before the high court bench ‘we support these petitions.’

They rued, “The situation prevailing in this Tribunal (Haryana Tribunal) is chaotic. There have been occasions, when the chairman orders that ‘judgment is reserved’ while the other two members announced ‘the case is adjourned’. There are advocates, who never appeared in a single tax matter before any court, but have been appointed as members of the Haryana Tax Tribunal.”

Surprised, Hooda said, “I was not aware of these conditions prevailing in the Tax Tribunal. I shall look into the matter”. The petitions will now come up for hearing on September 24

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