A division bench of the Lahore High Court, while hearing 52 identical petitions moved by Sharif family in 1995 challenging the alleged incorrect assessment about income tax, on Thursday sought the list of the heirs of deceased Muhammad Sharif and his son Abbas Sharif.

The bench of Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Ayesha A Malik remarked that the case was 18 years old and needed to be decided as soon as possible. So, it directed the petitioner’s counsel to submit the list within 15 days.

The petitioner, through their lawyer Tariq Aziz Malik, had submitted that the Income Tax Department had assessed the liability of the Ittefaq Group and its directors at Rs20 million, but the tax was raised to Rs400million during Benazir’s first government. They had contended that on an appeal before the department, during the first Nawaz Sharif government this amount was reduced to Rs20 million. But during Benazir’s second tenure as the country’s prime minister the Income Tax Department moved a second government appeal and the tax amount was raised to Rs650million, their counsel said, adding the objection about the assessment was raised about 1213 days late instead of the normal 60-day period and as such this decision on the face of it was illegal.

The counsel pointed out that it was mere victimisation and the whole process of raising the tax amount was illegal. He requested the court to declare the assessment made by the department after such a delay as illegal.