The Supreme Court has decided to set up a nine-judge constitution bench to examine the validity of separate entry taxes on goods, mandated by statutes, by various state governments.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur has taken note of the entry tax provisions of various states as some companies have challenged them on the ground that they are against the concept of free trade and commerce under Article 301 (Freedom of trade commerce and intercourse) of the Constitution.
“Counsel for the parties submit that the main appeals/ petitions are all ripe for listing before a larger Bench of nine-Judges. They submit that instead of dealing with the interim applications or directing any modification in the arrangement already made, it would be more appropriate if the appeals/petitions are set down for final hearing in the month of July, 2016.
“We accordingly direct that the papers shall be placed before the Chief Justice for constituting an appropriate Bench to hear the main appeals/petitions in the month of July 2016,” the bench, also comprising Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit, said.
The bench asked senior advoacte Harish Salve, who has been representing some companies in the matter, to file a “comprehensive” compilation of his submission on each one of the questions that have been referred for determination by the larger Bench.
“This would include suggestions which other counsel appearing in the connected matters may have to make including citing the decided cases relied upon by them or any additional facets that they may like to project in support of their cases,” it said.
The apex court asked the counsel for other parties, including some states, to provide written notes to Salve who, in turn, would incorporate them in his compilation.
“We make it clear that apart from the comprehensive compilation which Mr Salve proposes to file, each one of the counsel for the parties to these appeals/petitions shall file a brief of the submissions not exceeding 10 pages in each case.
“The submission shall be filed within six weeks…We make it clear that none of the counsel shall be permitted to seek any adjournment on the dates fixed for hearing,” the bench said while fixing the matter for hearing on July 18.
The nine-judge bench would be revisiting two judgements passed by the apex court in 1960 and 1962 respectively on the issue.
The decision to refer the case to the larger bench came during the recent hearing of matters filed by companies including Vedanta Aluminium Ltd, Essar Steel Ltd, Tata Steel Ltd, Adani Enterprises Ltd and the Odisha government.