The GST Council has decided to extend the tenure of the National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) for one more year whilean alternative will be explored in the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

This is a second extension for the Authority whose term will now continue till November 30, 2022.

“Considering the pendency of cases, extension was given. Also, the Council has mandated the Tax Department to explore the possibility of transferring pending and future cases to the CCI post-November next year,” a senior Government official told BusinessLine . This move will require changes in the law beside a dialogue with the commission.

‘Different ministries’

CCI is part of the Corporate Affairs Ministry. It has been established through the Competition Act 2002. It is mandated to eliminate practices which have an adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the consumers’ interests and ensure freedom of trade.

NAA comes under the Finance Ministry and was established under Section 171 of CGST Act. It started working with effect from December 1, 2017. It was intended as a transitional arrangement with a specific time limit in view of the sudden changes in tax levels due to the introduction of GST, which was followed by periodic rationalisation.

The law empowers NAA to determine whether reduction in rate of input tax credit (ITC) has been passed on to the consumers or not, by lowering prices. If not, then the Authority may ask for reduction of prices, levy penalty and in extreme cases can even order cancellation of registration.

NAA consists of a chairman and fourtechnical members. However, the post of the chairman and that of two technical members are vacant. The authority needs a quorum of Chairman and three technical members.

‘No quorum’

NAA’s work was adversely affected during the April-June quarter of the current fiscal. First, one of the technical members got affected due to the pandemic along with some other officers.

Following this, one technical member went back to his cadre and then in May the Chairman moved to a new assignment. Now, one technical member is also holding additional charge of the Chairman. As there is no quorum, NAA could not dispose any case in April-June quarter.

As on date, 39 cases are currently pending for disposal with NAA while the Directorate General of Anti-profiteering (DGAP), the Standing Committee and the State Level Screening Committees are looking into over 400 matters.

However, the concern is that nearly all the Anti-Profiteering rules framed under law have been challenged through 126 writ petitions filed by suppliers against NAA’s orders in eight High Courts.

Now, the expectation is that the Finance Ministry will soon appoint a Chairman and three technical members, so that the pending cases can be taken up at the earliest.