The fact that the session was held at midnight was purely ceremonial and involved red carpets, special sound systems, lights and guests.
Midnight sessions of the Indian parliament have happened in the past too, to celebrate anniversaries of special events (as you can imagine, these sessions were also electorally motivated). On midnight on August 15, 1947, the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru gave a famous speech, now popularly referred to as the tryst with destiny in the Central Hall of Parliament, to mark India's independence.
At midnight on July 1, 2017, a gong was struck and the GST was rolled out by Prime Minister Modi, and President Mukherjee, who was one of the original legislative pilots of the GST Bill (as a Finance Minister) in the previous government. Apart from showmanship, the reasons that this even was marked so ceremoniously are:
It is the largest tax reform in India, which is known for a large, burdensome tax system with a high rate of non-compliance. A single GST now subsumes a large number of indirect taxes (such as octroi, state VAT, customs duties, excise taxes)
In the medium term, this is expected to have a positive impact on India's GDP growth, with estimates placing the impact between 0.5% to 2% a year for 10 years.
It introduces invoice matching, as each step of a supply chain with the buyer receiving an input credit. This is expected to significantly cut down on tax avoidance by non-declaration of transactions.
Politically, the passage of the GST Bill was a long, drawn out process. The target date was first stated to be 1 April, 2010; but the rollout was delayed by disagreements on revenue sharing between the Federal and State governments. Thus, the celebration was meant to indicate a hard-fought victory.
Critics of a Big Bang launch of complex tax proposals argue for gradual, low load rollouts to build up capacity. Others argue that it requires a large number of returns, making it cumbersome, as well as per-invoice updates. A large midnight spectacle also distracts from a lack of readiness. Infosys, the vendor that owns the backend system, had still not tested key functionality and had a history of failing to scale up to high load systems, like India's MCA21 e-governance initiative.