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ISLAMABAD: Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Mushtaq Sukhera has directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to conduct a departmental inquiry against a Commissioner Inland Revenue, who has been accused of demanding an expensive mobile phone set from taxpayer to allow refund under Prime Minister's Covid-19 package.

In this connection, the FTO has forwarded a unique case of corruption to the FBR for necessary action under Civil Servants Efficiency and Discipline Rules, wherein a BS-20 Commissioner Inland Revenue asked a Galaxy (S-20) cell-phone set, as a bribe; for allowing PM Covid-19 package benefit in the shape of lawful legitimate tax refunds.

The landmark order has recently been issued by the FTO under Own Motion intervention against a Commissioner IR, RTO Sargodha (CIR).

FTO order states: "The above-mentioned own motion case was initially registered as a complaint on a complaint received from an Income Tax Practitioner (ITP) alleging an act of corruption by demanding and receiving a "Cellular Phone" against CIR from the Complainant. During investigation, ITP requested for withdrawal of the complaint apparently due to some ill compromise amongst the Complainant and accused officer. Since the allegations of corruption contained in the complaint was duly backed with documentary proofs; it was considered appropriate to investigate the matter by converting it into an Own Motion case, while exercising powers conferred u/s 9(1)."

The glaring fact of the case is that the accused tax employee had allegedly demanded and received Cellular Phone Set as gratification from the complainant. Documentary evidence had been attached with the complaint, alleging that the said gratification in the shape of Cellular Phone set had been demanded and received by the accused CIR for allowing PM Covid-19 Package benefits in the shape of tax refunds to the clients of the complainant.

The complaint was received through e-mail from Kashif Siddique, Complainant which was assigned to Muhammad Tanvir Akhtar Advisor, for investigation. During the course of investigation; the complainant through application while denying the contents of the complaint, requested for withdrawal of the complaint. He; however, did not deny the filing of complaint in his withdrawal application. The learned Advisor enquired from the Complainant on telephone regarding filing of the complaint on 06.04.2021, which was confirmed by him.

FTO order said that some tangible evidence came on record, which solicits notice and inquiry. Evidence on record begs of a departmental inquiry and necessary action under Civil Servants Efficiency and Discipline Rules 2020, which of course are in the domain and discretion of FBR and the competent authority under laws. The facts which came on record are narrated hereunder and documents containing these facts are furnished to FBR for due consideration.

The complaint was filed by an ITP alleging therein that CIR asked from him a cell-phone, as bribe; for allowing PM Covid-19 package benefit in shape of lawful legitimate tax refunds. He purchased the cell-phone for a sum of Rs160,000/and delivered it through courier service vide receipt dated 07.07.2020. In the first instance CIR denied allegation but later on, after examining the record, which proved his receipt of the mobile phone, submitted additional explanation, wherein he stated that he wanted to purchase a cell-phone, which was not available in Sargodha. Therefore, he requested the Complainant to search in the Bahawalpur market and buy it for him. He also stated that the purchase cost was paid by him to the complainant later on. But despite submitting during hearing to provide proof, he did not provide any such proof.

Before completion of investigation, the Complainant requested for withdrawal of the complaint, which was allowed as a fair dispensation according to law but these facts have clouded the integrity of CIR. The complainant went extremely out of the way and filed three Writ Petitions, one in the Islamabad High Court, second in the Lahore High Court, Bahawalpur Bench and the third in Lahore High Court. In all the three Writ Petitions, the Complainants' prayer was limited to the extent of seeking a direction for the withdrawal of complaint, while he cited no cause of grievance against his person in the said petitions and therefore, prayed no relief for his person. Copies of all the necessary record along with the observations recorded above are forwarded to FBR for due consideration, as per law, FTO order added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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