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After seven long years since the enactment of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) law, the GST Appellate Tribunal (GSTAT) is finally on the verge of becoming operational. The government recently appointed Justice (retd) Sanjaya Kumar Mishra as the first president of GSTAT. While this appointment is a significant step forward, experts emphasize the need to expedite the selection of judicial and technical members to fully operationalize the tribunal.

Background and Significance of GSTAT

GSTAT was formed to address disputes arising from GST law, which replaced several indirect taxes including central excise, service tax, and state-level value-added tax (VAT). Until now, litigants have had to approach high courts for resolution, adding to the already heavy caseload of these courts. The establishment of GSTAT, with its principal bench in Delhi and 31 regional benches, promises a specialized forum to handle GST-related appeals, thereby streamlining the judicial process and reducing the burden on high courts.

Appointment of the First President

On May 6, 2024, the government appointed Justice (retd) Sanjaya Kumar Mishra as the president of GSTAT. This appointment was widely praised by legal experts who see it as a long-overdue move. Rupender Sinhmar, central government standing counsel and Partner at BSM Legal, highlighted that while this is a positive development, the tribunal’s judicial functions cannot commence until the appointment of other judicial and technical members.

Need for Judicial and Technical Members

For the GSTAT to be fully functional, it must have benches comprising both judicial and technical members. Judicial members bring expertise in legal procedures, while technical members are knowledgeable in the specific laws under adjudication. Jitendra Motwani, Partner at Economic Laws Practice, noted that the process of appointing these members could take several months, delaying the tribunal’s full operational status.

Pending Appeals and Future Challenges

According to a parliamentary response, as of August 2023, there are over 14,227 GST appeals pending, awaiting the operationalization of the tribunal. Jayesh H, Co-founder of Juris Corp Advocates and Solicitors, suggested that the tribunal’s registry should proactively group appeals with common issues to facilitate faster disposal once the tribunal begins hearings.

Efforts to Address Pending Litigations

To tackle the backlog of appeals efficiently, experts recommend several measures. Digitizing records and providing virtual platforms for hearings across all benches will help manage the volume of cases. Innovative approaches, such as clubbing appeals with similar legal questions, can expedite the disposal process.

Legislative Changes and Future Prospects

In December 2023, Parliament passed the Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023, which raised the age limit for the president and members of GSTAT, aligning the provisions with the Tribunal Reforms Act, 2021. This legislative change aims to attract experienced candidates for these crucial positions.


The appointment of the first president of GSTAT marks a significant milestone in the tribunal’s journey towards becoming operational. However, the timely appointment of judicial and technical members remains critical to its success. As the tribunal prepares to address the substantial backlog of appeals, the implementation of digital and procedural innovations will be key to ensuring efficient and timely justice for aggrieved taxpayers.

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