Trial of tax cases by special judge

Trial of tax cases by special judge

Section 203 of Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 has described that the Federal Government can appoint more than one special judge for trial of tax cases.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) issued the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 updated up to June 30, 2021. The Ordinance incorporated amendments brought through Finance Act, 2021.

Following is the text of Section 203 of Income Tax Ordinance, 2001:

203. Trial by Special Judge.—(1) The Federal Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, appoint as many Special Judges as it may consider necessary, and where it appoints more than one Special Judge, it shall specify in the notification the territorial limits within which each of them shall exercise jurisdiction:

Provided that the Federal Government may, by notification in official Gazette, declare that a special judge appointed under section 185 of the Customs Act 1969 (IV of 1969) shall have jurisdiction to try offences under this Ordinance.

(1A) A Special Judge shall be a person who is or has been a Sessions Judge and shall, on appointment, have the jurisdiction to try exclusively an offence punishable under this Part other than an offence referred to in section 198.

(1B) The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898), except those of Chapter XXXVIII, thereof shall apply to the proceedings of the court of a Special Judge and, for the purposes of the said provisions, the court of Special Judge shall be deemed to be a Court of Sessions trying cases, and a person conducting prosecution before the court of a Special Judge shall be deemed to be a Public Prosecutor.

(2) A Special Judge shall take cognisance of, and have jurisdiction to try, an offence triable under sub-section (1) only upon a complaint in writing made by the Commissioner:

Provided that where the offence of concealment of income which has resulted in non-payment of tax of rupees one hundred and above in case of a filer and rupees twenty five million or above in case of non-filer, the procedure provided in section 203B shall be applicable.

(3) The Federal Government may, by order in writing, direct the transfer, at any stage of the trial, of any case from the court of one Special Judge to the court of another Special Judge for disposal, whenever it appears to the Federal Government that such transfer shall promote the ends of justice or tend to the general convenience of parties or witnesses.

(4) In respect of a case transferred to a Special Judge by virtue of sub-section (1) or under sub-section (3), such Judge shall not, by reason of the said transfer, be bound to recall and record again any witness who has given evidence in the case before the transfer and may act on the evidence already recorded by or produced before the court which tried the case before the transfer.

203A. Appeal against the order of a Special Judge.— An appeal against the order of a Special Judge shall lie to the respective High Court of a Province within thirty days of the passing of the order and it shall be heard as an appeal under the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 (Act V of 1898) by a single Judge of the High Court.

203B. Power to arrest and prosecute.—(1) Where on the basis of material evidence brought on record, as a result of audit conducted by the auditors in terms of sub-section (8) of section 177 read with section 214C of this Ordinance, an assessment is made or amended under section 121 or 122 of this Ordinance, as the case may be, and the assessing officer records a finding that the taxpayer has committed the offence of concealment of income which has resulted in non-payment of tax of Rupees one hundred million and above in case of a filer and rupees twenty five million or above in case of non-filer, the taxpayer may be arrested after obtaining written approval of the committee specified under sub-section (2).

(2) The committee under sub-section (1) shall comprise the Minister for Finance and Revenue, the Chairman of the Board and the senior most member of the Board.

(3) All arrests made under this Ordinance shall be carried out in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898).

(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-sections (1) and (2) or any other provision of this Ordinance, where any person has committed offence of concealment of income or any offence warranting prosecution under this Ordinance, the Chief Commissioner with the prior approval of the Board may, either before or after the institution of any proceedings for recovery of tax, compound the offence if such person pays the amount of tax due along with such default surcharge and penalty as is determined under the provisions of this Ordinance.

(5) Where the person suspected of offence of concealment of income or any offence warranting prosecution under this Ordinance is a company, every director or officer of that company whom the authorised officer has reason to believe is personally responsible for actions of the company contributing to offence of concealment of income or any offence warranting prosecution under this Ordinance shall be liable to arrest:

Provided that any arrest under this sub-section shall not absolve the company from the liabilities of payment of tax, default surcharge and penalty imposed under this Ordinance.

203C. Procedure to be followed on arrest of a person.— (1) When an officer of Inland Revenue authorized under sub-section (1) of section 203B in this behalf arrests a person under section 203B, he shall immediately intimate the fact of the arrest of that person to the Special Judge who may direct such officer to produce that person at such time and place and on such date as the Special Judge considers expedient and such Officer shall act accordingly.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the sub-section (1), any person arrested under this Ordinance shall be produced before the Special Judge or, if there is no Special Judge within a reasonable distance, to the nearest Judicial Magistrate, within twenty-four hours of such arrest, excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the Court of the Special Judge or, as the case may be, of such Magistrate.

(3) When any person is produced under sub-section (2) before the Special Judge, he may, on the request of such person, after perusing the record, if any and after giving the prosecution an opportunity of being heard, admit him to bail on his executing a bond, with or without sureties, or refuse to admit him to bail and direct his detention at such place as he deems fit:

Provided that nothing herein contained shall preclude the Special Judge from cancelling the bail of any such person at a subsequent stage if, for any reason, he considers such cancellation necessary, but before passing such order he shall afford such person an opportunity of being heard, unless for reasons to be recorded he considers that the affording of such opportunity shall defeat the purposes of this Ordinance.

(4) When such person is produced under sub-section (2) before a Judicial Magistrate, such Magistrate may, after authorising his detention in such custody at such place and for such period as he considers necessary or proper for facilitating his earliest production before the Special Judge, direct his production before the Special Judge on a date and time to be fixed by him or direct such person to be forthwith taken to, and produced before, the Special Judge and he shall be so taken.

(5) Nothing in sub-section (3) or sub-section (4) shall preclude the Special Judge or the Judicial Magistrate from remanding any such person to the custody of an officer of Inland Revenue holding inquiry against that person if such officer makes a request in writing to that effect, and the Special Judge or the Judicial Magistrate, after perusing the record, if any, and hearing such person, is of the opinion that for the completion of inquiry or investigation it is necessary to make such order:

Provided that the period of such custody shall not exceed more than fourteen days.

(6) When any person is arrested under this Ordinance, an officer of Inland Revenue shall record the fact of arrest and other relevant particulars in the register specified in sub-section (10) and shall immediately proceed to inquire into the charge against such person and if he completes the inquiry within twenty four hours of his arrest, excluding the time necessary for journey as aforesaid, he may, after producing such person before the Special Judge or the nearest Judicial Magistrate, make a request for his further detention in his custody.

(7) While holding an inquiry under sub-section (6), an officer of Inland Revenue shall exercise the same powers as are exercisable by an officer in charge of a police station under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898), but such officer shall exercise such powers subject to the foregoing provisions of this section while holding an inquiry under this Ordinance.

(8) If an officer of Inland Revenue, after holding an inquiry as aforesaid, is of the opinion that there is no sufficient evidence or reasonable ground for suspicion against such person, he shall release him on his executing a bond, with or without sureties, and shall direct such person to appear, as and when required, before the Special Judge, and make a report to the Special Judge for the discharge of such person and shall make a full report of the case to his immediate superior.

(9) The Special Judge to whom a report has been made under sub-section, (8) may, after the perusal of record of the inquiry, and hearing the prosecution, agree with such report and discharge the accused or, if he is of the opinion that there is sufficient ground for proceedings against such person, proceed with his trial and direct the prosecution to produce evidence.

(10) An officer of Inland Revenue empowered to hold inquiry under this section shall maintain a register to be called “Register of Arrests and Detentions” in the prescribed form in which he shall enter the name and other particulars of every person arrested under this Ordinance, together with the time and date of arrest, the details of the information received, the details of things, goods or documents, recovered from his custody, the name of the witnesses and the explanation, if any, given by him and the manner in which the inquiry has been conducted from day to day and, such register or authenticated copies of its aforesaid entries shall be produced before the Special Judge, whenever such Officer is so directed by him.

(11) After completing the inquiry, an officer of Inland Revenue shall, as early as possible, submit to Special Judge a complaint in the same form and manner in which the officer in-charge of a police station submits a report, before a court.

(12) Magistrate of the first class may record any statement or confession during inquiry under this Ordinance, in accordance with the provisions of section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898).

(13) Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions of this section, Board, with the approval of the Federal Minister-in-charge, may, by notification in the official Gazette, authorize any other officer working under the Board to exercise the powers and perform the functions of an officer of Inland Revenue under this section, subject to such conditions, if any, that it may deem fit to impose.

203D. Special Judges.— (1) The Federal Government shall by notification in the official Gazette, appoint as many Special Judges as it considers necessary and, where it appoints more than one Special Judge, it shall specify in the notification the headquarter of each Special Judge and the territorial limits within which he shall exercise jurisdiction under this Ordinance.

(2) No person shall be appointed as a Special Judge unless he is or has been a Sessions Judge.

203E. Cognizance of offences by Special Judges.— (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Ordinance or any other law for the time being in force, a Special Judge may, within the limits of his jurisdiction, take cognizance of any offence punishable under this Ordinance upon—

(a) a report in writing made by an officer of Inland Revenue or by any other officer especially authorized in this behalf by the Federal Government; or

(b) receiving a complaint or information of facts constituting such offence made or communicated by any person; or

(c) his own knowledge acquired during any proceeding before him under this Ordinance or under any other law for the time being in force.

(2) Upon the receipt of report under clause (a) of sub-section (1), the Special Judge shall proceed with the trial of the accused.

(3) Upon the receipt of a complaint or information under clause (b), or acquired in the manner referred to in clause (c) of subsection (1), the Special Judge may, before issuing a summon or warrant for appearance of the person complained against, hold a preliminary inquiry for the purpose of ascertaining the truth or falsehood of the complaint, or direct any magistrate or any officer of Inland Revenue or any police officer to hold such inquiry and submit a report, and such Magistrate or officer shall conduct such inquiry and make report accordingly.

(4) If, after conducting such inquiry or after considering the report of such Magistrate or officer, the Special Judge is of the opinion that there is—

(a) no sufficient ground for proceeding, he may dismiss the complaint, or

(b) sufficient ground for proceeding, he may proceed against the person complained against in accordance with law.

(5) A special Judge or a Magistrate or an officer holding inquiry under sub-section (3) may hold such inquiry, as early as possible, in accordance with the provision of section 202 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898).

203F. Special Judge, etc. to have exclusive jurisdiction.— Notwithstanding anything contained in this Ordinance or in any other law for the time being in force no,–

(a) court other than the Special Judge having jurisdiction, shall try an offence punishable under this Ordinance;

(b) other court or officer, except in the manner and to the extent specifically provided for in this Ordinance, shall exercise any power, or perform any function under this Ordinance;

(c) court, other than the High Court, shall entertain, hear or decide any application, petition or appeal under chapters XXXI and XXXII of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898), against or in respect of any order or direction made under this Ordinance; and

(d) no court, other than the Special Judge or the High Court, shall entertain any application or petition or pass any order or give any direction under chapters XXXVII, XXXIX, XLIV or XLV of the aforesaid Code.

203G. Provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, to apply.— (1) The provision of the Code of Criminal procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898), so far as they are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Ordinance, shall apply to the proceedings of the court of a Special Judge and such court shall be deemed to be a court of Sessions for the purpose of the said Code and the provisions of Chapter XXIIA of the foresaid Code, so far as applicable and with the necessary modifications, shall apply to the trial of cases by the Special Judge under this Ordinance.

(2) For the purposes of sub-section (1), the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898), shall have effect as if an offence punishable under this Ordinance were one of the offences referred to in sub-section (1) of section 337 of the said Code.

203H. Transfer of cases.—(1) Where more than one Special Judge are appointed within the territorial jurisdiction of a High Court, the High Court, and where not more than one Special Judge is so appointed, the Federal Government, may by order in writing direct the transfer, at any stage of the trial, of any case from the court of one Special Judge to the Court of another Special Judge for disposal, whenever it appears to the High Court or, as the case may be, the Federal Government, that such transfer may promote the ends of justice or tend to the general convenience of the parties or witnesses.

(2) In respect of a case transferred to a Special Judge under subsection (1), such Special Judge shall not by reason of the said transfer, be bound to recall and rehear any witness whose evidence has been recorded in the case before the transfer and may act upon the evidence already recorded or produced before the court which tried the case before the transfer.

203I. Place of sittings.—A Special Judge shall ordinarily hold sittings at his headquarters but, keeping in view the general convenience of the parties or the witnesses, he may hold sittings at any other place.

(Disclaimer: The text of the above section is only for information. Team PkRevenue.com makes all efforts to provide the correct version of the text. However, the team PkRevenue.com is not responsible for any error or omission.)

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