LAHORE - The Lahore High Court on Thursday asked Punjab government to state the reasons why it imposed luxury tax on houses in selected areas and not accords the board in the city and province.

Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh of the LHC asked acting Punjab Advocate General Mustafa Ramday to explain the reasons in written on next date of hearing about this policy of the Punjab government.

The judge also refused to grant stay orders when Mustafa Ramday assured the court that no action would be taken against the non-depositors of the luxury tax till the final decision of the petitions.

The court was hearing a set of identical petitions challenging the levy of luxury tax on properties of two kanals or more in some localities of the city.

Arguing before the court, counsels for the petitioners said that as the government had imposed this act in 1997 and now again this tax could not be imposed. At this, the AGP said that the Punjab government was competent to impose this act therefore it was legal and constitutional.

The petitioners submitted that the government was adopting coercive measures for the recovery of the tax and requested directions for the government not to do so.

The court inquired what harm was if first installment of the tax was paid.  Responding the query, the petitioners counsels contended as it was an illegal and unconstitutional tax; therefore, they would not pay it.

The AGP, however, ensured the court that the government would not adopt any coercive measures till the final decision of the court.  The court will take up the matter on September 10.

The petitioners, mostly residents of Model Town and New Muslim Town, in their petitioners had submitted that the levy of the luxury tax in selective areas was amounted to discrimination. They said that the luxury tax was inconsistent with fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.

They pointed out that the government did not levy the impugned tax in many posh areas of the city including Cantonment and DHA which is clear discrimination.  The petitioners requested the court to set aside the notices issued to them by the excise and taxation department being unconstitutional.