Goods & Services Tax Council

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Goods & Services Tax Council is a constitutional body for making recommendations to the Union and State Government on issues related to Goods and Service Tax. The GST Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and other members are the Union State Minister of Revenue or Finance and Ministers in-charge of Finance or Taxation of all the States.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill, 2016, for introduction of Goods and Services tax in the country was introduced in the Parliament and passed by Rajya Sabha on 3rd August, 2016 and by Lok Sabha on 8th August, 2016. Consequent upon this, the Hon’ble President of India accorded assent on 8th September, 2016, and the same has been notified as the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016. As per Article 279A (1) of the amended Constitution, the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of Article 279A. The notification for bringing into force Article 279A with effect from 12th September, 2016 was issued on 10thSeptember, 2016.

As per Article 279A of the amended Constitution, the GST Council which will be a joint forum of the Centre and the States, shall consist of the following members: –

  1. the Union Finance Minister………………………………………………………. Chairperson;
  2. the Union Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance…………….. Member;
  3. the Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other
    Minister nominated by each State Government……………………………….. Members.

As per Article 279A (4), the Council will make recommendations to the Union and the States on important issues related to GST, like the goods and services that may be subjected or exempted from GST, model GST Laws, principles that govern Place of Supply, threshold limits, GST rates including the floor rates with bands, special rates for raising additional resources during natural calamities/disasters, special provisions for certain States, etc.

The Union Cabinet in its meeting held on 12th September, 2016 approved setting-up of GST Council and setting up its Secretariat. The Cabinet inter alia took decisions for the following:

  1. Creation of the GST Council as per Article 279A of the amended Constitution;
  2. Creation of the GST Council Secretariat, with its office at New Delhi;
  3. Appointment of the Secretary (Revenue) as the Ex-Officio Secretary to the GST Council;
  4. Inclusion of the Chairperson, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), as a permanent invitee (non-voting) to all proceedings of the GST Council;
  5. Create one post of Additional Secretary to the GST Council in the GST Council Secretariat (at the level of Additional Secretary to the Government of India), and four posts of Commissioner in the GST Council Secretariat (at the level of Joint Secretary to the Government of India).

The Cabinet also decided to provide for adequate funds for meeting the recurring and non-recurring expenses of the GST Council Secretariat, the entire cost for which shall be borne by the Central Government. The GST Council Secretariat shall be manned by officers taken on deputation from both the Central and State Governments.

The provisions of Article 279A of the Constitution of India with respect to constitution of GST Council and its mandate are as below:

GST COUNCIL

279A. (1) The President shall, within sixty days from the date of commencement of the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016, by order, constitute a Council to be called the Goods and Services Tax Council.

(2) The Goods and Services Tax Council shall consist of the following members, namely: —

  1. the Union Finance Minister………………………………………………………. Chairperson;
  2. (b) the Union Minister of State in charge of Revenue or Finance…………….. Member;
  3. (c) the Minister in charge of Finance or Taxation or any other
    Minister nominated by each State Government……………………………….. Members.

(3) The Members of the Goods and Services Tax Council referred to in sub-clause (c) of clause (2) shall, as soon as may be, choose one amongst themselves to be the Vice-Chairperson of the Council for such period as they may decide.

Mandate of GST Council

(4) The Goods and Services Tax Council shall make recommendations to the Union and the States on—

  1. the taxes, cesses and surcharges levied by the Union, the States and the local bodies which may be subsumed in the goods and services tax;
  2. the goods and services that may be subjected to, or exempted from the goods and services tax;
  3. model Goods and Services Tax Laws, principles of levy, apportionment of Goods and Services Tax levied on supplies in the course of inter-State trade or commerce under article 269A and the principles that govern the place of supply;
  4. the threshold limit of turnover below which goods and services may be exempted from goods and services tax;
  5. the rates including floor rates with bands of goods and services tax;
  6. any special rate or rates for a specified period, to raise additional resources during any natural calamity or disaster;
  7. special provision with respect to the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand; and
  8. any other matter relating to the goods and services tax, as the Council may decide.

(5) The Goods and Services Tax Council shall recommend the date on which the goods and services tax be levied on petroleum crude, high speed diesel, motor spirit (commonly known as petrol), natural gas and aviation turbine fuel.

(6) While discharging the functions conferred by this article, the Goods and Services Tax Council shall be guided by the need for a harmonized structure of goods and services tax and for the development of a harmonized national market for goods and services.

(7) One-half of the total number of Members of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall constitute the quorum at its meetings.

(8) The Goods and Services Tax Council shall determine the procedure in the performance of its functions.

(9) Every decision of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall be taken at a meeting, by a majority of not less than three-fourths of the weighted votes of the members present and voting, in accordance with the following principles, namely: —

  1. the vote of the Central Government shall have a weightage of one third of the total votes cast, and
  2. the votes of all the State Governments taken together shall have a weightage of two-thirds of the total votes cast, in that meeting.

(10) No act or proceedings of the Goods and Services Tax Council shall be invalid merely by reason of—

  1. any vacancy in, or any defect in, the constitution of the Council; or
  2. any defect in the appointment of a person as a Member of the Council; or
  3. any procedural irregularity of the Council not affecting the merits of the case.

(11) The Goods and Services Tax Council shall establish a mechanism to adjudicate any dispute —

  1. between the Government of India and one or more States; or
  2. between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other side; or
  3. between two or more States, arising out of the recommendations of the Council or implementation thereof.