HC pulls up Maharashtra govt for delay in creation of website for sales tax tribunal

Tribunals in a progressive state like Maharashtra cannot remain primitive in embracing technology, the Bombay High Court said, while rapping the Maharashtra government for dragging its feet on the creation of an official website for the state sales tax tribunal.

A division bench of Justices G S Kulkarni and Jitendra Jain, in its order of October 12, said it should not take so long to create and make the website functional.

“In the present era, the courts and tribunals, which cater to the demands of the consumers of justice, cannot be expected to function without the basic requirement of an official website, to say the least,” the court said.

The bench cited the Supreme Court’s observation that technology plays an essential role in securing access to courtrooms and as a result, access to justice for citizens across the country.

“In embracing technology, the tribunals in a progressive state like Maharashtra cannot remain primitive. Providing a website would certainly enhance the efficiency in the working of the tribunal and make effective access to justice,” the court said.

The bench noted that in June this year, it was informed that the National Informatics Centre (NIC) had agreed to develop the tribunal’s website.

The court had then directed the finance department to consider the issue of budgetary approval and had sought compliance by August.

In October, the tribunal’s president informed the court that the government and the tribunal were taking steps to develop the website.

The bench, in its order, noted that steps need to be taken expeditiously so that the website commences on or before December 31.

The court noted that there was nothing “so herculean and/or impossible” in creating a website, especially with the expertise and experience of the NIC.

The court said it was of utmost necessity that the president of the tribunal forward a proposal to the Maharashtra government to make video-conferencing facilities available, as several other tribunals already have the same.

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