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In its previous order dated 24th August, the division bench noted that the National Informatics Centre (NIC) had agreed to develop the website for the Maharashtra Sales Tax Tribunal (MSTT).
The Bombay High Court recently criticized the Maharashtra state government for its failure to establish a website for the Maharashtra Sales Tax Tribunal (MSTT).
The division bench of the high court, consisting of Justice GS Kulkarni and Justice Jitendra Jain, remarked that a progressive state like Maharashtra cannot afford to lag behind in adopting technology.
“In embracing technology, the tribunals in a progressive State like Maharashtra cannot remain primitive. Providing of a website would certainly enhance the efficiency in the working of the tribunal and make effective the access to justice,” the bench observed.
In its previous order dated 24th August, the division bench noted that the National Informatics Centre (NIC) had agreed to develop the website for the Maharashtra Sales Tax Tribunal (MSTT). The bench had recorded that the Secretary of the Department of Finance should review the report for budgetary approval, emphasizing that the matter pertains to access to justice.
Advocate Shruti Vyas, representing the State Government, submitted a compliance report dated 11th October 2023. The report outlined the ongoing development and the planned steps that the Maharashtra Sales Tax Tribunal (MSTT) intends to take, including the procurement of technical manpower and cloud infrastructure, for the creation of the website.
She additionally mentioned that the proposal was presented, discussed, and approved during the 76th Project Implementation Committee meeting of the Finance Department on 10th October 2023.
However, the bench expressed the view that the website should be operational before 31st December. The High Court cited the Supreme Court's directive asking high courts and tribunals to start video conferencing facilities, stating that,
“In the present era, the courts and tribunals which cater to demands of the consumers of justice cannot be expected to function without the basic requirement of an official website to say the least. It also cannot take so long to create and make the website functional. As observed by the Supreme Court, the technology plays an essential role in securing access to court rooms and, as a result, access to justice for citizens across the country,” the bench said.
Advocate Vyas informed the bench that the National Informatics Centre (NIC) would require a longer time for the development of the website.
In response, the bench remarked that there is nothing so herculean or impossible in creating a website, especially given the expertise and experience that the NIC possesses in developing websites for various courts, including high courts across the country.
The bench has scheduled the next hearing for the plea on 28th November.
Case title: Ascendas IT Park (Pune) Pvt. Ltd. vs State of Maharashtra & Ors
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