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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) will submit a report on the FBR’s restructuring on February 28 (Wednesday) before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) after the suspension of notification for the constitution of a high-powered Implementation and Asset Distribution Committee (I&ADC) on Board’s restructuring.

The IHC has fixed the next date of hearing on Feb 28 on a petition filed by the deputy commissioner of the FBR.

The court had suspended the notification for the constitution of a I&ADC to undertake all required actions for the restructuring of the FBR. Besides this, the IHC bench also issued notices to the respondents and sought a report on this matter. “Until the next date of hearing, the operation of the impugned Notification is suspended”, the IHC order added. The petitioner opined that the restructuring of the FBR is not the mandate of the caretaker government and the caretaker government should be prevented from restructuring the FBR.

Restructuring plan of FBR: Taxpayers should be inducted into Policy Board: PBC

The petitioner stated that the committee was formed despite the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has stopped it under the Election Act, 2017.

The petitioner said that the FBR’s role in delegated legislation involves implementing fiscal policies within the framework established by primary legislation, ensuring alignment with legislative intent, and adhering to principles set forth by the judiciary to maintain legality, reasonableness, and constitutional compliance. He prayed to the court to declare that the restructuring and digitalization plan of the FBR initiated by the caretaker government, as approved by the federal cabinet, as unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, and without lawful authority. He also requested the court to declare that the caretaker government has no power or authority to make any policy decision or long-term planning then it has no power to take any initial or preliminary step in that regard. “All steps taken for restructuring of FBR be declared as no nest, nonexistent and thus rendering it to have no legal effect whatsoever,” maintained the petitioner.

He added, “The impugned restructuring being in departure from the statutory provisions and also contrary the constitutional provisions as well in conflict with fundamental rights cannot survive on the touchstone of Articles 2-A, 3, 4, 9, 18, 23, 24 and 25 of the Constitution, the same may please be declared as invalid and with no legal effect.”

The primary ground on which the petitioner has assailed the initiation of the restructuring process is that under the provisions of the Election Act, 2017, and Section 230 in particular thereof, a caretaker government cannot take any policy decisions. In this regard, a complaint has been submitted to the ECP which has in unequivocal terms advised the caretaker prime minister not to go ahead with the major reforms in FBR and to keep it pending for consideration by the government to be elected. The respondents remained bound under the Constitution to abide by and show compliance with the advice of the ECP. It appears that in blatant defiance of the said view of the ECP, the Ministry of Finance/FBR has issued notification for the constitution of committee on FBR’s restructuring.

The petitioner’s counsel prayed to the court to issue appropriate directions to the respondents, specifically respondents No 1 and 2, that: “to cease the implementation of the said restructuring plan until the matter is adjudicated upon by this Honourable Court.” He further requested to provide full disclosure and justification for the restructuring plan, including details of legal amendments, administrative interventions, and any potential long-term implications on fiscal policy and governance.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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