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ISLAMABAD: Despite clear-cut directions from the Cabinet Division and against the orders of the president issued in favour of the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO), the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) continued to file writ petitions in High Courts.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued an order in the matter of WP No 1570/20 24 (Commissioner Inland Revenue Vs. President’s Secretariat (Public) and others).

The IHC order said that the counsel for the petitioner is stated to be busy before the Lahore High Court at Multan Bench. A request for an adjournment has been made on his behalf.

Directorate of PCA (South) Karachi: FTO for withdrawal of illegal audit notices to importers

The case has been adjourned to May 24, 2024, the IHC order added.

In April 2024, the FTO directed the FBR to withdraw all writ petitions filed by the board, in high courts, after passing the orders of the President of Pakistan within 15 days.

In this regard, the FTO has issued directions to the FBR on implementation of the orders of the President of Pakistan in representations against the findings of the Ombudsman.

According to the FTO Office directive to the FBR, it has been noted that despite clear directions of the government of Pakistan, Cabinet Division, various field officers of FBR prefer writ petitions in the High

Courts. Such practice is in clear violation of the Cabinet Division and also the directions of the FBR.

It is therefore required to issue instructions to all concerned for implementing, in letter and spirit the directions of the Cabinet Division and the President Secretariat. All writ petitions filed after passing the orders of the President may be withdrawn within 15 days under intimation to the FTO’s Secretariat, the

FTO’s instructions added.

Through another directive, the FTO has asked the FBR not to file writ petitions before the high courts against the FTO’s orders.

In this regard, the FTO has written a letter to the FBR chairman raising serious concern against the FBR’s practice of filing unnecessary representations before the president and also filing writ petitions in the high courts.

The FTO’s letter exposed serious problems in the FBR legal system of pleading cases in courts and the president of Pakistan.

The letter states, it has been observed that FBR files representations before the president of Pakistan without analysing the facts of the cases. An analysis made by this office shows that the President of Pakistan has disposed of 242 representations filed by FBR since January, 2023, till-date. Only six representations of FBR succeeded, whereas, the rest were rejected/disposed of.

During the same period, the FBR has filed 192 fresh representations against the recommendations of the FTO. It has been noticed that representations are filed in cases of same nature which have earlier been decided and in which recommendations were upheld by the President of Pakistan. A large number of representations are being rejected with the remarks that FTO’s recommendations are unassailable.

The agency has the lawful authority to decide the matter on its merit in accordance with the law and precedent on the subject, the FTO said.

In this regard, FBR had already framed SOP prescribing that every representation must be routed through Member-Legal and the line Member for properly analysing the facts and grounds of the representation. Such practice appears to have been discontinued as evident from ever increasing number of representations filed by FBR, the FTO maintained.

The FBR has devised a new strategy for filing of review petitions/representations before the president against the orders of the FTO.

Over 95 per cent orders of the FTO have been confirmed by the president which has facilitated the general masses as well as the business community.

The FBR has issued instructions to all Chief Commissioner Inland Revenue, Director Generals-IR and Commissioners-Inland Revenue (Appeals).

President had confirmed 95 per cent orders of the FTO against the FBR during 2022. The trend of confirmation of orders of the FTO by the president of Pakistan has been increased every year. In 2022, the FBR/complainants have filed 461 representations against the FTO orders with the president during

  1. The total number of cases disposed of by the FTO stood at 6,106 during 2022.

The FBR has implemented a SOP for processing of the FTO cases.

The FBR has observed during the processing of review petition/representation that the timeline given by the Legal Wing for submission of proposals to the Board for filing of review petition/representation against FTO findings/recommendations is not being adhered. The reviews or representations from field formations are usually received on the last date or a day before its expiry. This leaves the Legal Wing with no time to properly analyse the grounds/facts of the case.

Furthermore, it has also been noticed that some field formations do not mention the date of receiving findings/recommendations of the FTO while sending their representation/review to the Board.

It is pertinent to mention that as per instructions notified by the FTO, physical documents and orders of the FTO has been replaced with online orders/documents. Therefore, representation/review against FTO order has to be filed from the date of posting of the order online on the FTO portal or receipt of the same via email to the FTO representative of the concerned formation.

In future, if recommendations of the FTO are not acceptable, the review petition/representation to the FTO/president should reach the Board at least 10 days before the expiry of the prescribed time limit with all supporting documents mentioned in the review/representation with proper index and the cover letter should clearly include the date of receiving of the FTO recommendations, the FBR maintained.

Lastly, all documents/replies/para-wise comments have to be uploaded on the FTO’s portal by FTO representative of all formations of Inland Revenue, the FBR added.—SOHAIL SARFRAZ

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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