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Pakistan Tax Bar

PTBA advises FBR stop interfering judicial function of Commissioner Appeals

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tax Bar Association (PTBA) has urged the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to stop interference in judicial function of Commissioner Appeals.

In a letter to FBR Chairman Muhammad Javed Ghani on Tuesday, the PTBA while referring to the instructions by the Legal Wing of the FBR to Commissioners Appeals, expressed serious concerns in interference in the judicial independence of the Appeal forum of the Commissioner Appeals and over the language of the letter which clearly indicates the direct influence in the judicial work/power of Commissioner Appeals.

The Legal Wing of the FBR in its letter directed the commissioner appeals that they may exercise powers under tax laws however unnecessary annulment of orders with directions may be avoided.

“Frequent annulled with directions orders will reflect adversely on the performance of the officers,” it added.

The PTBA said that the letter is a clear demonstration of the overt and covert pressure that is exerted on commissioner appeals by the FBR and the field officers.

“It is prima facie a travesty of justice in eyes of a taxpayer who is an aggrieved taxpayer is to seek relief from the departmental authorities which could be susceptible to overt and covert pressure from FBR.”

This letter of February 15, 2021 issued by the FBR Legal Wing clearly established direct interference of the FBR in judicial function of Commissioner Appeals. “This is just not acceptable to PTBA and its membership.”

An independent and fair appeal forum of the commissioner appeals is sine qua non for a taxpayer to have confidence in the tax administration.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan had elaborated this principle in a leading case by holding that ‘separation of judiciary from executive is the cornerstone of independence of judiciary.’

“If the taxpayer has confidence in a fair and just appeal forum of the FBR, he will come forward and be compliant taxpayer.

“An independent appeal forum of commissioner appeals free from influence and inference of the FBR and FBR field units will also reduce unethical practices prevalent in the field units.”

The PTBA demanded the FBR to withdraw the letter and re-assure all the commissioner appeals to adjudicate and decide appeals in a fair and just manner according to law and facts without any fear or influence from FBR or the FBR field units.