Although the Bombay High Court dismissed a petition alleging that leading fantasy sports operator Dream11 was involved in gambling and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evasion on 30th April, 2019, another PIL filed against the central and state government, Dream11 and its founder directors Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth has been pending since 5th April, 2019.
The petition filed by lawyer Pooja Rajendra Pandey alleges that Dream11 has been indulging in tax evasion and has not paid Goods and Services Tax (GST) at the rate of 28% as required under Rule 31A of Central GST Rules.
Pandey’s petition further alleges that Dream11 merely provides an ‘acknowledgement’ to users for entry fees it receives, which is deposited with the company’s escrow agent, while a tax invoice is issued only for the GST paid on the margin/platform fees charged by Dream11.
The PIL further prays that Dream11 be asked to pay all its GST dues including interest and penalties on the face value of the entry fee on past and present transactions.
Pandey’s petition is however still listed as pending on the Bombay High Court website and the defects of the petition are not yet cured. Notably however, the Bombay High Court has already ruled that there is no GST evasion by Dream11 in a later PIL filed on similar grounds by Advocate Gurdeep Singh Sachar.
Ultimately, the matter was appealed to the Supreme Court by Sachar and the Union government. The apex court while dismissing Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) on 13th December, 2019 allowed the Union of India to file a review petition with the Bombay High Court on the limited grounds of challenging the observations giving clean chit to Dream11 on the issue of manner of payment of GST.
The Supreme Court further stated that the Bombay High Court would have to hear the review on merits if it was filed within four weeks from 13th December, 2019.
It remains to be seen if the central and state governments file review petitions challenging the order of the Bombay High Court in Sachar’s case or if the court decides to hear Pandey’s PIL on merits.