MIRPUR (AJK) -  The imposition of property tax in Azad Jammu & Kashmir was challenged in Azad Jammu & Kashmir High Court which issued stay order against it on Thursday.

A single bench of the learned AJK High Court consisting of Justice Azhar Salim Baber here Thursday issued interim relief order accepting two identical writ petitions titled “Zulfiqar Ahmed Raja Advocate v/s Azad Jammu & Kashmir government etc” challenging the recent imposition of the property tax under the Property Tax Act 1974.

The HC issued notices to chairman of Azad Jammu & Kashmir Council (Prime Minister of Pakistan)  , AJK government through Secretary Finance, Department of Justice, Law and Parliamentary Affairs and Department of Human Rights, AJK Council through Secretary Kashmir Affairs, Income Tax, Inland Revenue  and Provincial Taxes of Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Azad Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly.

Petitioner Zulfiqar Ahmed Raja Advocate contended in his petition that Azad Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly have  no constitutional and legal powers to pass the Property Tax Act 2015 and Property Tax Rules 2015 under Clause A of sub section 2 of the section 31 of  Act 1974 (Interim Constitution of AJK).

“Rather Azad Jammu & Kashmir Council, upper house of the AJK Parliament, enjoys this constitutional and legal power to impose, withdraw or make any amendment in imposition of the taxes,” the petitioner added.

It has further been contended in the petition that the people of Azad Jammu & Kashmir are already regularly paying income tax  under section 15 of Income Tax Ordinance 2001. Whereas Azad Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly has re-imposed the same income tax upon the rental income through its self-conceived under section 2 of the sub section 3 of the Property Tax Act 2015.

“This act of the AJK Legislative Assembly falls in the category of the imposition of double taxation,” the petitioner contended adding that it was absolutely contradictory to the law and constitution – since  law and constitution also do not allow  double taxation. “It is also the violation of basic human rights  mentioned in section 4 of the Act 1974, the interim constitution  of AJK”, the petitioner underlined.

The AJK High Court also accepted an identical writ petition filed by a local property owner Faiz Rasool challenging the imposition of property tax by the AJK government through an interpretation / amendment in the law by AJK Legislative Assembly.

Petitioner Faiz Rasool also contended and described in his petition filed through his Counsel Qazi Adnan Qayyum Advocate the imposition of property tax upon the people / concerned owners of the properties in AJK are already paying income tax on their earnings through their properties. The learned HC issued interim stay order suspending the government order about collection of levies in form of property tax from the property owners in AJK, by accepting both the writ petitions for regular hearing, serving notices to the parties to appear before the court during next date of hearing.

BUSINESS MEETING: A three-day meeting of  representatives of the Chambers of  Commerce and Industry of Indian held Jammu, Kashmir and Azad Jammu & Kashmir; and prominent business  leaders, Line of Control (LoC) traders and women entrepreneurs from the regions, convened by Conciliation Resources, concluded in Thai capital city of Bangkok last night., AJK CCI Secretary Shafique Chaudhry told media.

The meeting,  he underlined, built on previous meetings that have been convened in the past. Elaborating, the AJK CCI Secretary Shafique Chaudhry, who returned last night after attending the meeding continued, that the ex-presidents and presidents of the Chambers apprised the participants of the previous efforts made to promote the cross-LoC trade. The efforts and leadership of the past presidents to get the Joint Chamber to this point were greatly admired by the participants and it was emphasized that their continued guidance and support for this institution would be highly valuable. Subsequently, important issues concerning each region were discussed by the representatives, the key focus being on the improvement of connectivity across the regions.