The Supreme Court has restrained the Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice from proceeding against the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) secretary revenue division over his non-appearance before the LHC in a case related to a refund of Rs2.5 billion sale tax to a businessman.
A three-judge SC bench – presided over by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Aminuddin Khan – issued this order on Monday while hearing a petition filed by the federal government against an LHC order.
LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on June 9 issued show cause notice to the FBR secretary revenue division after he failed to appear before the LHC due to preparation of budget. The chief justice noted that reasons for his absence were unsatisfactory.
The federal government later challenged the LHC June 9 order in the apex court.
The government contended that jurisdiction exercised by LHC chief justice under rule 5 of high court establishment of benches Rules 1981 is against law and facts of the case, adding that instead of referring the matter to LHC Multan bench, the LHC chief justice entertained the matter at the principal seat in Lahore.
The LHC dismissed the secretary’s application along with an affidavit for exemption from personal appearance on the grounds that the federal budget 2021-22 which was going to be announced and presented in the parliament on June 11 and role of petitioner in preparation of budget was vital.
The petition said the LHC failed to appreciate that tax fraud was committed by Usman Trade Linkers which deprived the public exchequer of Rs1. 021 billion in the shape of tax fraud.
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Justice Bandial while authoring a two-page order, noted that the reasons given by federal secretary has substance and it would be just that prayer of the application is taken into consideration by the LHC and matter be listed for hearing sometime in July
“Until then no action may be taken on a show cause notice if any that may have been issued to the applicant,” said the order. Interestingly, incumbent LHC chief justice is retiring on July 5.
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