ISLAMABAD: In a request letter, Syed Tauqeer Bukhari, Advocate, President, Rawalpindi/Islamabad Tax Bar Association requested to the Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan that the right of access to justice and independence of judiciary is one of the most important rights of the citizen and if there is any threat to the independence of judiciary, it would be tantamount to denial of access to justice, which undoubtedly is a fundamental right under Article 9 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
He also emphasized that under the relevant provision of Income Tax, Sales Tax FED Laws, show cause notices issued by Inland Revenue Officer (IRO) and the same officer passed order in favour or against the taxpayer. Against the said order, taxpayer file first appeal before the learned Commissioner Inland Revenue (Appeals) and the said Officer is also Inland Revenue Officer under the command and control of FBR which forums in not independent.
In addition to that the Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue is also 2nd & final appellate forum, which was independent forum in past, comprising of one accountant and one Judicial Members of the Bench. Under the provisions of Section 130 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001, the accountant member will be from FBR or practicing chartered accountant with at least 10-years professional experience and the judicial member will be a person experienced as District Judge and is qualified for a Judge of the Advocate High Court qualifying to be a Judge of the High Court.
Whereas, Section 130 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 was amended through Finance Act, 2013 according to which the Inland Revenue Officer of FBR having no any judicial experience is eligible for the post of member judicial which is on direct strike on independence of judiciary. The appeals of the taxpayers will be adjudicated by two IROs of FBR that is also against the independence of judicial systems.
The President, Rawalpindi/Islamabad Tax Bar Association also given the model of reformed structure for taxation judicial system according to which setup of Tax Courts in Pakistan, the post of 1st Appellate Commissioner must be independent having no concern with FBR and direct appointment made on the basis of relevant experience.
Whereas, the powers exercise by the Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue are in essence “Judicial power” or the state. The ATIR must be under the supervision and administrative control of the High Court concerned and such supervision/control includes appointment of the Chairman and other members of the ATIR.
He categorically mentioned in his written request that while framing the Nation Judicial Policy, mandate of Article 203 read with Article 175 was re-emphasized under the heading “Independence of Judiciary.” He also referred Clause 6 of the Judicial Policy and requested the Prime Minister as well as Finance Minister of Pakistan that the Federal Government may amend the relevant laws to bring the judges and staff of the Tribunal in purview of the respective High Court.