The Peshawar High Court has dismissed a writ petition filed by five inland revenue commissioners of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) against the office of Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera, who has ordered the chairman of the board to form an inspection team to check corrupt practices in the tax machinery.
The PHC declared the arguments of the petitioners as “misconceived” because the FTO could investigate any allegation of maladministration on the part of the Revenue Division or any tax employee of his own motion.
The petitioner, being a civil servant, shall in no manner be considered an aggrieved person, it added.
The court held that the office of FTO did not require the presence of a complaint, particularly when there was an overwhelming perception of rampant corruption in the tax hierarchy.
Tax lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt, a whistleblower for the FTO, told The Express Tribune that it was rare that a government department, responsible for collecting revenue, had approached a court against a constitutional office that was responsible for checking corrupt practices.
The FBR member operations earlier said it was not the decision of the board to file petitions in the court rather it was an individual action of the respective commissioners.
The move appears well-coordinated as some BS-20 officers could not make such a bold move without the backing of their bosses.
Waheed further said the office of the FTO was established through FTO Ordinance, 2000, which derives its mandate from various provisions of law.
The inspection team, its functions, jurisdiction and powers have been categorically specified. The core functions performed by the FTO are remedial, curative and preventive in nature.
The PHC order read: “[The] arguments of the petitioners are misconceived because under section 9(1) the FTO can investigate any allegation of maladministration on the part of Revenue Division or any Tax Employee of his own motion.
FTO letter to Chairman FBR for constitution of inspection team for investigation of allegation of malpractice with corrupt motives in discharge of duties falling within the ambit of maladministration cannot be said to illegal or against the provision of FTO Ordinance, 2000.
The petitioner being a Civil Servant shall in no manner be considered as aggrieved person. The FBR being mandated with a fiscal duty of collection of tax from the subjects of this country as such they should not hesitate from presenting themselves for accountability in order to have trust of the public that the tax collection is transparent.”
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