The Supreme Court today transferred to the Delhi High Court all petitions pending before various high courts relating to the challenge to the levy of service tax on senior advocates. A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta allowed the plea filed by the Centre seeking transfer of all matters pending before different high courts on the issue to one high court.
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the bench that pleas concerning the matter were pending before the high courts including that of Delhi, Calcutta, Allahabad, Gujarat, Kerala, Punjab and Haryana and Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. “Our request is that these matters should be transferred to one of the high courts,” he told the bench.
However, the respondents said that no issue remains after the Centre’s clarification that service tax, and now GST, would be paid on reverse charge basis. “We are of the view that it would be appropriate if all these matters are transferred to one high court,” the bench said, adding “we will transfer these matters to the Delhi High Court”.
During the hearing, the bench was informed that the Delhi High Court had earlier passed an interim order staying the Centre’s notifications providing for levy of 14.5 per cent service tax on senior advocates from April 1, 2016 onwards.
The high court’s order had come on a plea by the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) which had challenged the notifications on the ground that they “result in double taxation and was against the basic principles of value added tax regime”.
The high court was earlier told that as per the Centre’s notifications, from April 1 last year, the service tax on senior advocates would be leviable on forward charge basis – where it is paid by the senior advocate, while service tax on advocates (other than seniors) and law firms would continue to be levied on reverse charge basis.