The Supreme Court of Pakistan has once again ruled in favour of the citizen, and against the unfettered discretion of the state, on Friday striking down theProvisional Collection Taxes Act 1931, while stopping the government from increasing the General Sales Tax by one percent, and ordering that the money collected so far be deposited with the Registrar. However, though the price increase, particularly on fuel, will be rolled back, it can still be re-imposed by Parliament, from July 1, the beginning of the new financial year. During Thursday’s hearing, the bench hearing the case expressed concern about the role of Parliament in the existence of the Act, a colonial-era piece of legislation on which governments have routinely relied to collect new taxes, or old taxes at new rates, as in the present case, as soon as the Finance Minister announces them in his budget speech. The logic is that once the measures are announced, prices will go up anyway, so the government might as well make the collections. However, it leaves Parliament a mere rubberstamp. There is also the assumption that the government will get the Finance Bill passed, as that is assumed to be a measure of confidence. However, the Supreme Court has taken the view that this is against the Constitution, and Parliament alone can legislate.One result is that the Supreme Court must collect the money collected so far. As it seems that the money collected before, which has been done every year since the coming into force of the impugned Act is being left to the government, which has long spent that money, as a past and closed transaction, it would only be in the fitness of things to treat the present collection that way, particularly as it would be well nigh impossible to identify those who actually paid the tax. It must not be forgotten that if the court returns the money to the businessmen who made the deposit, they will not keep that money, as well as that they charged their buyers on account of the tax increase.The government has an opportunity to withdraw the increase, which was basically imposed to make the IMF happy. The imposition of the tax increase should not have been made in the first place, as it came in a budget which gave no relief to the ordinary citizen. The government was elected on a growth platform, and instead of offering any relief, imposed taxes which were anti-growth because inflationary. It should not give up this opportunity of reversing them. It must concentrate on satisfying the already hard-pressed public more than an uncaring IMF.