FBR launches drive to recover Rs50 billion -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

FBR launches drive to recover Rs50 billion

Mubarak Zeb Khan

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue has awoken to Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s directive that courts will not grant interim relief of more than six months to taxpayers seeking stoppage of assessment or recovery of their due taxes.

Inland Revenue Services member Shahid Husain Asad told Dawn on Sunday that the FBR had started a recovery drive for more than Rs50 billion revenue stuck in litigation in various courts because of extension in stay orders for the past many years.

The landmark observation was made by the chief justice at the concluding session of the International Judicial Conference held last week, but surprisingly the FBR was not aware of the decision which had paved the way for early resolution of tax-related cases pending for years.

The FBR, according to Mr Asad, came to know about the remarks while reading the speech of Justice Chaudhry which was posted on the website of the Supreme Court.

On Sunday, the FBR issued a press statement to highlight the importance of the directions in which the chief justice suggested setting up of sufficient courts for expeditious disposal of cases pertaining to assessment or collection of public revenues.

“The Islamabad High Court has recently given an order in a tax-related case after 13 years of litigation,” Mr Asad said.

“We are thankful to the chief justice for giving the direction, which will make the task of tax officials easier and allow them to start a drive for recovery of taxes,” Mr Asad said.

Justice Chaudhry had observed that the courts would have to decide the assessment or collection of taxes within a period of six months and avoid further grant of stay orders, referring to unnecessary lingering on of tax-related cases in courts. It was observed that in case the court did not give order in a case within six months, the stay would automatically be vacated, making it legal for the tax officials to start action for recovery or assessment of due taxes.

The FBR is struggling to achieve the revenue target of Rs1,952 billion for 2011-12. So far Rs1,358 billion has been raised from the taxpayers, the IRS member said.

The FBR will have to collect Rs594 billion in the next 72 days for reaching close to the target.

The press release said Justice Chaudhry observed: “I would like to point out that under clause (4A) of Article 199 of the Constitution, an interim order passed by a high court in a case relating to assessment or collection of public revenues ceases to have effect on the expiration of a period of six months and the high court is required to finally decide such matters within the said period of six months from the date on which the interim order is made.”

The chief justice observed that despite aforesaid constitutional clog, such matters continue to linger on for longer periods of time on one pretext or the other without any extension having been granted by the competent court.

As a matter of fact, in view of the above constitutional provision, no extension at all can be granted by any court, the CJ said.

Since the interim order ceases to have effect on expiration of a period of six months from the date of passing of the order, the authorities concerned are well within their right to seek enforcement of the judgment against which any such interim order is passed after the expiry of the aforesaid period of six months.

“We will be examining it in the next meeting of the National Judicial (Policymaking) Committee,” the chief justice said.