–SC judge’s counsel says tax commissioner decided the matter of Article 116’s violation on his own
ISLAMABAD: Advocate Babar Sattar, the counsel for Supreme Court (SC) judge, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, on Wednesday told the court that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) never issued any notice to his client and the tax commissioner decided the matter of Article 116’s violation on his own.
A ten-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed heard the petitions filed by the apex court judge against the presidential reference.
During the course of proceedings, Advocate Sattar said that foreign income/asset details were to be submitted according to the tax code from 2018.
Justice Faisal Arab asked when reference was filed. Advocate Sattar replied that the reference was filed in May 2019.
Justice Faisal Arab asked whether tax code applies to this case. Advocate Sattar said that when assets do not belong to Justice Isa, tax code is not applicable to him.
Justice Yahya Afridi told the SC judge’s counsel that he was heading to tax issues while the court was hearing the matter about assets. Justice Munib Akhtar asked the counsel to avoid confusing different issues with each other.
Advocate Sattar said that taxes are a matter between the citizen and the state and no one could interfere with anyone else’s tax affairs, he added. He also said that income tax law applies to income and not assets and income tax is not applicable on finances which are not eligible for taxation.
He said that Justice Isa did not violate Article 116 of the tax laws. There is no mention of the money-trail in tax laws, he added.
Advocate Sattar said that the money trail case first surfaced in the Panama Papers case. He said that money trail of offshore companies has to be revealed where the identity of original owner is hidden. Justice Isa’s wife and children owned property in London and they never denied ownership of these properties, he added.
He said that paying taxes and submitting statements were different things. He said that tax statements could be submitted even if there was no taxable income. There is a fine of Rs 25,000 for not submitting the wealth statement with tax declarations, he added.
Advocate Sattar said that according to law, the assets of the dependent spouse, children and others must be disclosed.
Justice Maqbool Baqar asked whether the tax officer can give his opinion without an issue notice.
Advocate Sattar said that FBR never issued a notice to Justice Isa and his wife. The tax commissioner decided on his own for violation of Article 116, he added. He further said that his client was not accused of hiding his wealth statement.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that it was not mandatory to show assets of spouse and children according to the 2013 wealth statement form.
Advocate Sattar said that no one else was responsible for anyone’s tax related issues.
Justice Faisal Arab said that even if the wife was not dependent on her husband, it was mandatory to declare her assets.
The hearing was then adjourned till Monday.
The reference filed against Justice Isa alleges that he acquired three properties in London on lease in the name of his wife and children between 2011 and 2015, but did not disclose them in wealth returns.