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ISLAMABAD: A division bench of Peshawar High Court (PHC) has dismissed a writ petition filed by five Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Commissioners Inland Revenue against the office of the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO), which ordered the Chairman FBR to constitute inspection teams to check corrupt practices within the tax machinery.

It is learnt that the PHC declared that arguments of the petitioners are misconceived because the FTO can investigate any allegation of maladministration on the part of Revenue Division or any tax employee of his own motion. The petitioner being civil servant shall in no manner be considered as an aggrieved person. The office of FTO does not require the presence of a complaint in every case to order for investigation rather it may on its own motion investigate any allegations of maladministration on the part of Revenue Division, particularly when there are prevailing such overwhelming perception of rampant corruption in tax hierarchy.

When contacted tax lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt, who is a whistleblower before the FTO, informed that surprisingly the FBR's field officials have gone in the courts against a constitutional office that is responsible to check corrupt practices in the FBR. The office of FTO was established through FTO Ordinance, 2000, which derives its mandate from various provisions of law. 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 states "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.

The office of FTO does not require the presence of a complaint in every case to order for investigation rather it may on its own motion investigate any allegations of maladministration on the part of Revenue Division, particularly when there are prevailing such overwhelming perception of rampant corruption in tax hierarchy. We are thus of the view that this writ petition being misconceived and premature is accordingly dismissed, the PHC order added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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