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ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has confirmed the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) order to recover Rs450,000 cost and compensation personally from Commissioner Inland Revenue (CIR), Abbottabad and pay the same to the complainant taxpayer for illegal attachment of bank account.

Sources told this correspondent that in a recent order President of Pakistan has rejected the representation filed by FBR against FTO order wherein FTO has directed the FBR to recover Rs0.45 million from Asghar Khan Niazi, CIR, Regional Tax Office (RTO) Abbottabad and Muhammad Rafaqat, IAO, Abbottabad (costs and compensation) in equal shares and arrange to pay the same to the complainant; fix responsibility regarding administrative excesses neglect, inattention, delay, incompetence, ineptitude and inefficiency in the administration or discharge of duties and responsibility and initiate appropriate disciplinary proceedings against the officials found accountable and direct the CIR concerned to issue additional payment for delayed refund to the complainant.

When contacted, tax lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt said that in the context of FTO's jurisdiction, an unseemly 'tug of war' has been going on for many years between obdurate FBR officials and the FTO. It is high time that drastic steps have to be taken by the Chairman Javeed Ghani, to take action against the officials violating the laws at their own sweet will.

Waheed further added that earlier President of Pakistan has fully endorsed the verdicts of FTO in various cases such as in No. 66/2002-Rep (FTO) Law it states "sub-section (6) of section 14 of the 2000 Ordinance provides that if the FTO has reason to believe that any tax employee has acted in a manner warranting disciplinary proceedings against him he may refer the matter to the appropriate authority for necessary action." In F.No.11/2003-Law (FTO), No. 12/2003-Rep(FTO)Law and No. 218/2004-Law(FTO), President has rejected the representations of the FBR employees against FTO with the directions that "the Chairman CBR shall institute an enquiry to find if any disciplinary action against CIT would be proper and justified", "CBR shall take appropriate disciplinary action against the officials".

Supreme Court in 2000 SCMR 1615 categorically observed "...the Ombudsman would be free to deal or touch upon in the context of the dispute referred and he would remain free to exercise his suo motu powers generally in the matter, again in consonance with S.9 of the said Act---." Maladministration has an inclusive definition and under Section 2(3)(vii) of the FTO Ordinance, professional incompetence of FBR functionaries falls in this category. View point regarding jurisdiction of FTO is unambiguous in the verdict issued by DB of Lahore High Court in 2005 PTD 1797 which states "The Ombudsman could suggest measures to curb the maladministration in view of the facts of a particular case."

The findings of the FTO in this case showed that administrative excesses for improper motives, neglect, inattention, delay, incompetence, ineptitude and inefficiency in the discharge of duties and responsibility and as a consequence unlawful recovery of tax liability outstanding against a private limited concern from the bank account of the complainant tantamount to maladministration, FTO ordered.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020