No rift between law officers and bureaucrats on GST gaming issues: ASG N. Venkatraman in SC

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Purportedly referring to a G2G news report about an apparent rift between Revenue Secretary Sanjay Malhotra and Additional Solicitor General of India (ASG) N. Venkatraman, the latter stated that such reports of a rift between bureaucrats nand law officers on pursuing retrospective GST notices against online gaming companies is baseless and incorrect.

Venkatraman made the submission in the Supreme Court before a bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Dr. DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra while appearing on behalf of the central government and tax authorities in writ petitions filed by E-Gaming Federation, Head Digital Works Private Limited and Play Games24x7 Private Limited.

Venkatraman noted that all arms of the government are working unitedly and on the same page in terms of pursuing retrospective Goods and Services Tax (GST) notices to online real money gaming firms. ASG also stated that the petitioner association is providing leaks to media on the issue. Senior counsel Harish Salve appearing for the petitioners said the petitioners would not go to media on the matter.

The ASG also stated that tax collections on prospective 28% GST on deposits from 1st October, 2023 has not garnered the desired revenue for the exchequer, and the GST Council may review the levy.

He further stated that the tax authorities have issued show cause notices to around 99 online real money gaming companies so far.

The Bombay HC, the Goa bench of Bombay HC, Karnataka HC, Calcutta HC, and the Sikkim HC are hearing cases pertaining to GST notices to online gaming companies and casinos.

In today’s hearing, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the government seeking a response to a plea filed by industry association EGF and online gaming companies on tax demands. The matter now tagged with GamesKraft matter will be listed for final hearing after conclusion of hearings in 9 judge bench matters in February 2024.