After Sethi Presidency again accused of favouring tax evaders

By Sarmad Ali

Islamabad (Pak Destiny) Presidency is involved in flouting the orders passed by Lahore High Court (LHC) regarding filing of appeals under Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Ordinance, 2000 that representation under section 32 of the FTO Ordinance can be made against the recommendations and not against the order on review application.
Sources told Pak Destiny that on the issue of filing any representation before the President against the order passed FTO, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has instructed its field formations that FTO’s findings may be examined in the light of Federal Ombudsman Institutional Reform Act, 2013 and earlier orders passed by the President. Even the earlier orders passed by President have not been observed/followed on the issue.
When contacted a Lahore based tax lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt told this correspondent that earlier FBR in consultation with FTO through instructions had barred its field formations from filing fresh representations before the President against the FTO’s orders in cases where previously filed representations have not been accepted by the President, but this is not practically happening and observed in the field even the verdict of binding nature issued by Hon’ble Division Bench of LHC has been flouted by the state officials. 
It appears some officials working in the Presidency are involved in favoring some blue eyed taxpayers, by admitting the illegal void representations, filed against the orders passed by FTO in the  review petitions. The act of officials representing of the Presidency is prima facie without lawful jurisdiction and ab-initio void. Such  act  on the part of Presidency officials is a rare instance of misuse of power by a “Public Servant” representing   most respectable and highest authority of Pakistan i.e., Presidency, and amounts to defaming the President: Lawyer added.
  The law on the issue is that no representation can be filed against the order passed by FTO in review, if there is no change in the original recommendation/order as passed by the FTO under the FTO ordinance, 2000. Section 32 of the FTO Ordinance state that  if a person is aggrieved by recommendation of FTO, he can file Representation within 30 days of the recommendation. Right of representation is available under section 32 of the FTO Ordinance only against the recommendations of the FTO, and not against any order passed by him on review application.
Earlier in an identical issue, lawful decision was passed by the President in Case No.1743 of 2001 of Specialty Printers (Pvt) Ltd, in which the President had rejected the recommendations on the ground of being time barred and representation can only be made against the recommendations and not against the order of review.  Even in latest orders passed by the President the same view point has been reaffirmed by the President “No representation against order in review”, Case No. 603/FTO/2013 dated 04.09.2014 and Case No. 408/FTO/2013 dated 04.09.2014. Even the view point of the order by the Honorable Division Bench of LHC in a case reported as 100 TAX 274  =  2009 PTD 955 has been followed. “President, while performing his function under Section 32 of the Establishment of Office of Federal Tax Ombudsman Ordinance, 2000, acts in quasi judicial and not in administrative capacity. Representation under Section 32 of the Ordinance can be made against the recommendations and not against the order on review application.
  Tax lawyer further added that any action to provide an illegal benefit in any taxation matter is Corruption and Corrupt practice under Section 9 (vi) of NAB Ordinance 1999, which says if he misuse his authority so as to gain any benefit or favor for himself or any other person, or renders or attempts to render or willfully fails to exercise his authority to prevent the grant, or rendition of any undue benefit or favor which he could have prevented by exercising his authority. If he has issued any directive, policy, or any SRO (Statutory Regulatory Order) or any other order which grants or attempts to grant any undue concession or benefit in any taxation matter or law or otherwise so as to benefit himself or any relative or associate or a benamidar or any other person.
  The Honorable President is requested to take action against those responsible for such illegal act, under his mandate and his commitment for Zero tolerance for Corruption because it is the duty of statue functionaries to dispense justice and functionaries representing government departments are supposed to uphold the dignity of law and respect command and orders of the Courts. On the other hand due to illegal acceptance of representation under section 32 of the FTO Ordinance, 2000, the process of law is being abused badly, lawyer added. – Pak Destiny

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