The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the interim orders passed by the Kerala and Allahabad High Courts to defer Central and State tax recovery proceedings, including the GST, till April 6 on account of the COVID-19 outbreak.

A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar ordered a freeze on the implementation of the High Courts’ orders on an urgent mentioning made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for the Centre.

Mr. Mehta said the “broad and omnibus” directions arbitrarily passed by the High Courts would have a “catastrophic” strain on national finances, and in fact, on the nation’s ongoing battle against the pandemic and its monthly commitments like payment of salaries.

“The government is conscious of the prevailing situation and will take suitable measures to alleviate any hardship… The government is fully committed to using all its resources at its command to deal with the situation arising out of the coronavirus pandemic and it is taking pro-active precautions and measures… It has also been praised by the World Health Organisation for its response,” Mr. Mehta told the court during the mentioning.

The orders were passed by High Courts on March 19. The courts also extended limitations to conclude tax assessments, etc.
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