LHC dismisses Tareen’s plea for halting audit of JDW

Estranged PTI leader, others withdraw interim bail pleas in money laundering case


Our Correspondent June 12, 2021
Jahangir Tareen talking to media persons in Lahore on May 19, 2021. SCREENGRAB

LAHORE:

The Lahore High Court on Friday rejected a petition filed by estranged PTI leader Jahangir Tareen to stop the audit of his sugar mills.

Separately, Tareen, his son Ali Tareen and other co-accused in the money laundering case withdrew their interim plea for pre-arrest bails after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) deputy director told the

LHC that there was no need to arrest the former PTI general secretary at the moment.

An LHC bench headed by Justice Mohammad Raheel Kamran heard the petition seeking stopping the audit of Tareen’s sugar mills.

In the petition, Tareen maintained that his JDW Sugar Mills was one of the major taxpayers in the country.

The audit commissioner, through a notice sent on May 21, had sought JDW Sugar Mills’ various documents and records related to income tax up till the year 2015, he added.

The petitioner contended that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was not authorised to audit a business entity after a lapse of five years.

“Legally, the FBR is authorised to conduct tax audit of 2015 till September 30, 2020. As that time had now passed, notice was sent with illegal and malicious intent,” the petition read.

The petition stated that the FBR's notice was in violation of contradicted Sections 122 and 174 of the Tax Ordinance and should be declared null and void.

Until a final decision on the petition is made, the FBR should be restrained from taking disciplinary action against the JDW Sugar Mills.

The court, after hearing the position of the petitioner and the lawyers representing the FBR, dismissed the petition.

Read Tareen, co-accused withdraw interim bail pleas in money laundering case

In the other case, the PTI leader's counsel, Salman Safdar, said they were withdrawing the pleas on the basis of the FIA official's statement.

Safdar further contended that the case did not even come under the FIA's ambit, adding that it was the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) that looked into matters related to companies.

He observed that the investigative agency took the role of a petitioner unto itself. He asked for the FIA to inform the accused 10 days prior to arresting his clients.

Approving the request, the court wrapped up the matter of the pleas, directing the FIA to inform the accused seven days prior to arresting them.

Talking to the media after his appearance at court, the estranged PTI leader said that he had appeared in more than 100 proceedings pertaining to the case.

"I submitted all the details with the court and all transfers were made through banks. Now, after a hassle of 10 months, the FIA has informed the court that there was no need to arrest me," he added.

Earlier, it had emerged that FIA had decided it would not arrest the PTI leader, his son, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz in connection with its investigation into the multi-billion rupees sugar scam.

The FIA has sent its summary to Adviser to the PM on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar and the FBR would carry out further proceedings in the sugar case.

FIA sources said as the investigation had been completed, it was not necessary to arrest anyone. They added that all records and investigation reports had been forwarded to the FIA DG and the prime minister's adviser.

On May 31, the former PTI general secretary had reminded Prime Minister Imran Khan of his promise that he [Tareen] would be treated justly and said it was about time justice was delivered.

The FIA had lodged three cases against the PTI leader after an inquiry highlighted Tareen’s alleged link to a powerful sugar mafia that created a shortage of the sweetener in January last year with the aim to hike sugar prices.

Last month, when a group of PTI lawmakers, also known as the Tareen group, accused the FIA of victimising the former party secretary-general in a sugar scam case, Senator Barrister Ali Zafar was assigned by the prime minster to “impartially” ascertain the facts of the investigation.

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