Kriti Agrawal –
The Kerala High Court has urged the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council to consider whether or not to include petrol and diesel in the GST system.
The petition was submitted by the Kerala Pradesh Gandhi Darshan Vedhi, who argued that the prices of petrol and diesel fluctuate in different states because of the different taxes imposed by each state.
Mr Arun B. Varghese, the lawyer for the writ petitioner, argued that unification of the tax on petrol and diesel is necessary and that frequent price hikes are negatively impacting citizens’ lives because prices of common commodities rise in tandem with fuel prices.
Mr Varghese also pointed out that when elections are approaching, central and state governments intervene and control fuel prices, even if they claim that the petroleum marketing companies set the pricing.
It was also stated that the Union and state governments enthusiastically cooperated in the reduction of fuel prices ahead of the elections. As a result, all arguments to such effect were tossed aside.
Petitioner further said that the GST regime’s exclusion of petrol and diesel violated Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution and that a writ of mandamus might be issued to force the GST Council to make a decision. He further claimed that the Union of India is the proper authority to make a decision on the matter.
While opposing the petition, Mr C.E.E. Unnikrishnan, a Senior Government Pleader appearing for the Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, argued that the topic belongs within the government’s policy sphere and that the Court should not intervene.
After examining a plea, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly ordered the government to make a judgment on the representation making the demand within six weeks.