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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), issuing notice to the respondents (Pakistan Oilfields Limited and others), said that the respondents shall continue to pay the tax liability under Section 4C as amended by the Finance Act, 2023.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jehangri heard the Intra-Court Appeals (ICAs) of the Commissioner Inland Revenue. The bench clarified that its earlier order in the POL case is to have a prospective effect.

The appeal was directed against the verdict of the IHC single bench dated 15-03-2024, whereby, the writ petition filed by respondent No 1 (Pakistan Oilfields Limited) was allowed.

OGDCL, PPL & POL get provisional awards for new exploration blocks in Sindh, Balochistan

Asma Hamid, representing the Commissioner Inland Revenue, contended that the reasons which prevailed with the judge-in-chambers are erroneous. It was submitted that the issue raised in the writ petition was different from the one raised in the earlier writ petition i.e. WP No4027 of 2022 titled, “Fauji Fertilizer Company Limited and another Versus Federation of Pakistan and others.”

A single judge bench of Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan on March 15 had rejected the applications of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the pleas of the taxpayers, who are not assessed to tax in Islamabad.

He maintained that IHC has jurisdiction to hear the petitions of the taxpayers who are not assessed to tax in Islamabad. He said a detailed judgment would be passed subsequently.

A number of taxpayers challenged the constitutional vires of the amended Section 4C for the tax year 2023, before the IHC. Even those taxpayers that were not assessed to tax in Islamabad approached the IHC in its writ jurisdiction under article 199 of the Constitution as the FBR and seat of the Federal Government are in Islamabad.

The IHC had granted interim relief, wherein, it directed that the maximum rate of super tax that can be charged is four per cent (the tax rate applicable before the amendment made vide Finance Act 2023) and that no demand inconsistent with the judgment titled, Fauji Fertilizer Company Limited and another vs Federation of Pakistan and others (WP 4027 of 2022) earlier passed by IHC shall be raised by the FBR. As such, one of the key principles, emerging from the interim order of the IHC in the Fauji Fertilizer judgment was that income falling under the Final Tax Regime shall not be taken into account for the purposes of computing super tax under Section 4C of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001.

The FBR through applications had requested the IHC to dismiss the petitions of the respondents, who were not assessed to tax in Islamabad on grounds that since they were assessed to tax in different provinces, therefore, IHC lacked territorial jurisdiction to entertain the said writ petitions.

The IHC, after hearing the arguments of both sides at length on this issue, dismissed the FBR applications vide short order dated 08/12/2023. It decided; “to proceed to hear the case on merits on 26.01.2024.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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