New Delhi: Numerous petitions challenging the Centre’s notification imposing service tax on senior lawyers will be heard by the Supreme Court in order to avoid multiplicity of proceedings across various high courts across the country.

A bench headed by Justice Kurian Joseph while granting leave in the matter, held that petitions on the issue of service tax imposition across different high courts would be heard by the apex court.

The imposition of service tax on senior lawyers was proposed under the Union Budget of 2016.

Under the impugned notification, service tax on senior lawyers would be levied on a forward charge basis (where service tax is required to be paid by service provider) and/or on reverse charge basis (where service tax is required to be paid by service recipient).

Various high courts including the Delhi high court, Bombay high court, bar associations and individual lawyers had challenged the operation of the notification.

It was contended before the Delhi high court that imposition of such tax was unconstitutional, against basic principles of value added tax (VAT) regime and in violation of the provisions of the Finance Act, 1994. Subsequently, its operation was stayed by the Delhi high court.

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