Constitution of Tax - A tale of Four Constitutional Amendments and Consumption Taxes
Author: Rav Pratap Singh
The precise moment when the idea underlying this book took hold of me escapes my memory. What I do recall is that when I commenced writing, debates on India’s GST had acquired a particular salience. These debates certainly influenced the contents of this book but they played a more significant role in my decision to write it in the first place. This is because one issue that particularly piqued my interest: the Constitutional interface of GST, was being discussed and debated in a manner that left a lot unexamined.
In my capacity as a policy consultant/legal consultant/academic, consumption taxes have often occupied an expansive space. I have encountered a spectrum of issues: some have required only a transitory attention, others a careful thought, but a handful of them evoked my intellectual curiosity without a corresponding opportunity to apply and test them in a tricky legal situation. Constitutional aspects of taxes, specifically consumption taxes, were in the last category.
My enduring interest in Constitutional aspects of consumption taxes, under appreciation of Constitutional aspects of GST by various commentators eventually paved the path for this book. Equally, I recall my numerous unsuccessful attempts to convince tax lawyers of the importance of Constitution and of Constitutional lawyers about the significance of taxation and financial dimensions of the Constitution. Hopefully, some of them will read this book and my persuasion may finally see a measure of success.
There is a time honored principle that many authors evoke to justify their book and I would rely on it too: I’ve written this book because I couldn’t find a published book of this nature. Neither could I recommend a book on Constitution and Tax when my students asked for a reading recommendation. There was no single work of scholarship I could enthusiastically recommend though a collection of articles could always be relied to understand this unique interface. And I hope this book also fills a gap in scholarship, as academics are fond of saying.
Finally, I’ve tried to write this book in an accessible manner with the hope of reaching out to a wider set of readers. At the same time, it has been my endeavour to not let the technical points escape my attention and ensure that the rigour of research is not diluted. Hopefully, those looking for an accessible academic book will not be disappointed. And if in trying to balance between accessibility and thoroughness I’ve unduly leaned towards one side, it’s not been due to lack of effort. I can only promise to try better next time.