Lahore homeowners get luxury tax notices suspended

Published: May 19, 2017

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday suspended notices issued to 31 citizens of Lahore for the recovery of luxury tax on their houses.

Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza of the LHC issued this order on the petition of Tanveer Iqbal and others. The petitioners, through their counsels, said that the Punjab Excise and Taxation Department was issuing notices for the recovery of luxury tax on their houses, which was illegal and unconstitutional.

They said the Lahore High Court already has declared this tax as unlawful. They contended that these tax notices were in violation of an earlier court order and amounted to contempt. The petitioners submitted that the government was adopting coercive measures for the recovery of the tax.

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Appearing before the court, a law officer submitted that the court did not declare the tax as illegal, but had directed the E&T department to regularise the recovery. He said the department was issuing these notices in line with lawful requirements and there was nothing illegal about the notices or the recovery of this tax.

After hearing the arguments, the court suspended the notices issued to 31 residents and ordered the E&T to recover the tax in line with the judgment of a division bench of the LHC.

In October 2016, a division bench of the LHC, headed by Justice Shahid Jamil Khan, dismissed hundreds of petitions challenging the Punjab government’s power to impose luxury tax on houses. However, it set aside recovery notices that were issued without following the due legal course.

The petitioners, through their counsel, contended that the government imposed luxury tax by amending Section 8 of the Finance Act. They said the luxury tax was inconsistent with the fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and amounted to double taxation.

The petitioners said at the time that a separate and independent legislation was required if the government wanted to impose the tax.They stated that authorities had instead imposed the levy through the Finance Act which was illegal and unconstitutional.

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Manhandling a judge

A full bench of the Lahore High Court on Thursday postponed contempt of court proceedings against three lawyers, Barrister Ehtesham Ameeruddin, Mehar Ahsan and Inam Afridi, for allegedly manhandling an additional district and sessions judge. The case will be now be heard on May 25. The three lawyers rendered an unconditional apology for their act. The bench had directed these lawyers to submit a written apology before the court.

Barrister Ehtesham, Mehar and Inam were facing the charges of damaging the decorum of the court by losing their temper with a judge and chasing him to his chambers before manhandling him. The incident took place during a hearing at a sessions court.

The Islampura police had lodged a case against these lawyers under terrorism and other criminal charges for misbehaving with the additional district and sessions judge in an open court. According to the case, the culprits ransacked his chambers for not getting a decision in their case. The case was registered on the complaint of the victim, Judge Irfan Anjum.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2017.

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