LAHORE - Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed of the Lahore High Court has referred a petition against entertainment tax on cinemas to the chief justice for constituting a larger bench for the case being of a sensitive nature. Petitioner Arif Khan of Gulistan cinema and others through their counsel Ali Sibtan Fazli had challenged entertainment tax submitting that the tax was an excise duty and under the constitution only federal government was empowered to impose such a tax. However, the Punjab government through Advocate General Khawaja Haris defended the tax on cinemas during several days proceedings in the court of Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed. Haris pleaded the Punjab government was authorised under the law to impose the tax. The AGP said duty was imposed after consulting a committee formed for this purpose and the cinemas owners were also members of it. The petitioner counsel Ali Sibtan Fazli pleaded 90 per cent of cinemas in Pakistan got completely demolished and the tax was not justified in view of the deteriorating conditions of the cinema industry. He said the government had earlier reduced entertainment duty from 150 per cent to 65 per cent after decline in the cinema industry. He said in 2004 government had exempted entertainment duty for two years that was further extended for three years that expired in 2009. He said during that period a local film Channa Sachi Muchi was released and it collected revenue of only Rs 33,000 from Lahore during first three days. The government had also constituted a 15-member committee including parliamentarians and representatives of cinema industry on the matter. But now all of sudden the chief minister had announced that exemption would be available for Pakistani movies while no such concession would be given to English and Indian movies. The petitioner said the government had ensured cinema owners that entertainment duty would not be levied unless the committee formulated some policy or gave recommendations. He said Punjab Entertainment Duty Act 1958 is unconstitutional as exemption granted to Pakistani films was discriminatory against English and Indian movies. He further said levy of entrainment duty would deprive common people of their valuable right of entertainment. The counsel prayed that PEC and levy of entertainment duty be declared unconstitutional and illegal.