The Orissa High Court directed the Commissioner GST to issue clear instructions to all the officers in the GST Commission rates in the state not to issue any notice demanding payment of service tax/GST to practising lawyers.
"It appears that despite knowing fully well that advocates are not liable to pay service tax or GST, notices continue to be issued to them by the GST Commissionerate. The Court expresses its concern that practising advocates should not have to face harassment on account of the Department issuing notices calling upon them to pay service tax/GST when they are exempted from doing so, and in the process also having to prove they are practising advocates." the bench comprising the Chief Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice B.P. Routray observed.
The court was considering a writ petition filed by one lawyer Devi Prasad Tripathy challenging a notice issued to him. The bench perused the counter affidavit filed by Principal Commissioner GST in which it was stated that "after receiving information from Devi Prasad Tripathy having PAN as being an individual advocate practicing in the Hon'ble High Court of Odisha", further proceedings against him are dropped."
"What the Court is concerned about is the deponent insisting that the Petitioner should have submitted "documentary evidence to prove his claim that he is a practicing individual lawyer and does not come under the provision of GST or service tax.", the bench observed. The court also heard other advocates present in the Court who stated that they too have received such notices.
Directing the Commissioner to issue instructions in this regard, the bench said that the copies of such instructions shall be placed before it.
The case will be taken up on 22nd April.