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Practicing advocates should not have to face harassment to prove that they are practicing advocates: High Court 

Also no notice demanding payment of GST to be issued to lawyers in practice.

The Court expresses its concern that practicing 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 practicing advocates.

- High Court


In the present case, the court was addressing the petition filed by a lawyer for notice received by him in regard to GST liability.

Remarks by High Court

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.”

A reference is made to a Notification dated 20th June 2012, in terms of which service tax liability of an individual advocate is Nil for legal services rendered to any of business entities located in the taxable territory. However, even for this, the Department appears to insist that the burden to prove it lies on the Petitioner. The counter affidavit filed acknowledges that a similar notice was issued to the Petitioner in 2017 to which he replied, pointing out how he was not liable to pay any service tax.

Mr. P. K. Parhi, learned Assistant Solicitor General of India, has fairly admitted that no notice in the first instance ought to have been issued to the Petitioner, who is a practising advocate. However, when specifically asked whether the clear instructions have been issued by the Department to all the officers involved in the enforcement of the GST regime that practising advocates should not be issued notices, he sought time for instructions.

During the hearing, certain other advocates present in the Court stated that they too have received such notices. 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 practicing 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 Commissioner GST is directed to issue clear instructions to all the officers in the GST Commissionerates in Odisha that no notice demanding payment of service tax/GST will be issued to lawyers rendering legal services and falling in the negative list, as far as GST regime is concerned.

Next Hearing on 22.04.2021


View Order by High Court

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Published by

TaxReply

on Apr 10, 2021


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