In a PIL filed by Tax Friends association challenging the constitutional validity of Sections 156 to 189 of the Finance Act, 2017, the Bombay High Court on Thursday issued notice to the Union of India seeking a reply.
A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur directed the Union of India to file its reply in eight weeks, and the petitioners to file the rejoinder two weeks thereafter.
It has been contended by the petitioners that the Finance Act, 2017, was passed as a Money Bill, which ensured that the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) could only suggest amendments to the Bill, thereafter none of the suggestions were included in the Bill passed by Lok Sabha.
Calling this “a fraud committed on the Constitution”, the petitioners drew a parallel with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, and the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016.
Sections 156 to 189 are provisions regarding reorganisation of tribunals and by amending those through the passage of a Money Bill would amount to “deliberate use of Article 110 to circumvent the need of Rajya Sabha approval will be a fraud on the Constitution”.
The PIL also challenged the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities (Qualifications, Experience and other Conditions of Service of Members) Rules.
Senior advocate Vikram Nankani, Kunal Katariya, instructed by Cogito Legal's Kunal Kanungo appeared for the petitioners.
Additional Solicitor General of India Anil Singh appeared for the Union of India.
The Bombay High Court is the third high court in the country to issue notice to the Centre on this issue.
As reported earlier, the Madras High Court had issued notice to the Centre in a similar challenge to the said provisions of the Finance Act, 2017. The Gujarat HC has also issued notice to the Centre seeking its reply.