Centre moves Supreme Court to transfer all pending GST petitions by money gaming companies before High Courts

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The union government has filed a transfer petition before the Supreme Court seeking transfer of all pending cases before the High Courts challenging GST notices issued to real money gaming companies. In a hearing today before the Sikkim High Court in relation to a petition by Delta Corp, the Deputy Solicitor General informed the court about the transfer petition.

The online information portal of the apex court reflects 27 cases pending before the High Courts of Bombay, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, West Bengal, Punjab & Haryana as linked to the present transfer petition.

As reported earlier, the already pending cases before a three member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice will tentatively be heard in April 2024. The petitioners in these cases include Games 24×7, Head Digital Works, and industry association EGF.

The tax department in an earlier hearing  informed the apex court that it will file a petition seeking the transfer of all cases related to the same legal issue pending before various high courts to the Supreme Court. So the present transfer petition is also expected to be tagged with the pending matters.

The case is expected to resolve the prolonged tax ambiguity on money gaming, and clarify conclusively if these are games of skill or chance, and if they would come under the ambit of betting and gambling for purpose of taxation. In an hearing in January, senior advocate Harish Salve appeared for the online money gaming companies while Additional Solicitor General N. Venkatraman appeared for the GST department and Union of India. ASG Venktaraman said notices have been served to over 99 companies.

The issue arose with issuance of GST notice of INR 21,000 crores to GamesKraft which was quashed by the Karnataka High Court. Subsequently, the Supreme Court imposed a stay on operation of Karnataka High Court directions pursuant to which the department issued tax notices to other real money gaming companies leading to flurry of writ petitions across the High Courts.