The 700,000-name, anti-HST petition should be thrown out by the courts because it treads on federal jurisdiction and misleads the public, lawyers for a coalition of business groups argued Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court.

On wrapping the coalition's legal challenge, lawyer Peter Gall told Chief Justice Robert Bauman it's the judge's role to be "the backstop."

"The courts are supposed to make sure, either way, whether the proposed bill comes within the jurisdiction of the province," he said of the draft legislation behind the petition that would be put before the house.

The six business groups, who began the court action only days before the petition was due to be filed with Elections BC, ultimately want the provincial government not to consider the plebiscite.

They include the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Council of Forest Industries and the Mining Association of B.C.

Their pending challenge put a halt to the process of moving the document to a legislature committee last week, when the chief electoral officer validated the petition, but said he couldn't take further steps until the courts had ruled.

If the petition had been passed forward, the committee would have then made recommendations to politicians to either put the issue to a vote in the house or sent it to a non-binding plebiscite.

Gall told court Wednesday that British Columbians who signed the petition mistakenly believed that if the initiative succeeded, the harmonized sales tax would be immediately scrapped.

"The clear intent of the bill is to extinguish the HST on the enactment of the bill. That's the only way it can be read."

Bauman reserved his decision on the matter, along with his decision on a counter-challenge by petition leader Bill Vander Zalm heard earlier this week seeking to declare the tax itself unconstitutional.

Outside court, NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said he disagrees with the coalition and called the legislature supreme.

"If I take the business groups' view, this should be prescreened and go to a court before it comes to us," he said.

"The legislature decides what it will discuss, what it will debate and what laws it will pass. Once something's passed, then the court will rule on whether the legislature was right to do that or not."

Former premier Vander Zalm, whose Social Credit government floated the Initiative and Recall Act that paved the way for the petition in the early 1990s, shot down the notion the petition was misunderstood.

"It's rather crazy 700,000-plus people didn't know what they were doing," he said.

The Fight HST campaign has threatened to launch recalls against Liberal MLAs come November using legislation that would have the power to force byelections.