SC dismisses appeal of Rs 246m tax defaulters
LAHORE – The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the appeal of the three people who committed tax fraud of Rs 246 million, observing such accused can’t be dealt with softly.
A two-member bench of the SC, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, passed the order on an appeal moved by Saadat Ali Khan, Muhammad Ali Khan and Ahmad Ali Khan in the Supreme Court, Lahore Registry. A customs judge had awarded 33-month imprisonment and over Rs 3,000 fine to the accused after they confessed to tax fraud of Rs 246 million.
The chief justice came hard on the judge who decided the matter, awarding a short sentence and a small amount of fine. He observed: “Under Section 37-A of the Sales Act, 1990, the judge had the powers to award imprisonment and impose fine equal to the amount which was concealed.” Justice Nisar wondered how the judge dealt with the matter with leniency and imposed just Rs 3,000 fine on the accused who should have been fined in millions of rupees.
The CJP also remarked the judges had no powers to decide the matters according to their will. The SC has already decided that fine is a punishment which cannot be eliminated. He further remarked under the law, the judge should have assigned the reasons of his discretionary powers in the judgment as to why he awarded such a low sentence.
“I feel the judge had made ‘something big’ by imposing so small amount of fine on the accused,” the CJP remarked and asked where he was.
A lawyer who was representing the FBR told the bench that Customs Judge Naseem Akhtar decided the matter and now he has retired. The CJP observed, “Had the judge been on duty, I would have served a notice on him. The accused should have been fined in millions of rupees.” “With a small amount of fines, the accused had been set free,” he further remarked and said the customs judge had misused his powers.
Ahmad Awais, the counsel for the accused, pleaded the LHC had increased the amount of the fine on the appeal moved by the FBR in the light of the Sales Tax Act, 2005. He argued the sales tax could not have retrospective effect on Sales Tax Act, 1990. He prayed to the bench to set aside the decision of the Lahore High Court.
The FBR counsel told the court that the accused were imposed the small fine and awarded short sentence in the case.
He said the accused had been booked in 48 tax fraud cases.
The customs judge imposed only Rs 3,000 fine which should have been equal to the amount which was concealed. The high court’s decision on the FBR’s appeal was correct as it increased the fine equal to the amount in question, he pleaded. After hearing both the sides, the SC dismissed the appeals, observing the court’s sympathy is denied when an accused openly confesses to his crime.