LAHORE - The Lahore High Court Tuesday extended till Oct 25 stay on collection of advance tax from marriage halls and gave time to the federal government and the Federal Board of Revenue to submit reply.

Justice Shahid Jamil Khan passed the order on a petition filed by owners of the marriage halls, hotels, commercial lawns and clubs, questioning amendment to Section 236 D of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 under Finance Act, 2018.

During the proceedings, a federal law officer and legal adviser of the FBR appeared before the bench and pleaded for more time to submit replies.

The court accepted the plea for more time, extended stay on recovery of the tax in question and adjourned the hearing until Oct 25.

Advocate A.K. Dogar, the lead counsel, contended before the bench that the Constitution guaranteed right to do lawful business and no such law could be made that would infringe the right of free trade and business in the country. The lawyer cited several judgements of the apex court wherein fundamental rights were protected, arguing that any law which infringed the fundamental right would be considered void.

The counsel also argued that under Section 236 D of the Income Tax Ordinance every citizen was required to pay advance tax at the rate of five per cent of the bill for running a business of marriage halls.

He argued that the amendment to the law was made to introduce a proviso according to which advance tax shall be payable in urban areas at the rate of Rs20,000 per function. However, according to newly amended law, the owner of a marriage hall was required to pay Rs20,000 even if his bill was lower.

The counsel said that advance tax could be payable legally on a percentage basis and its amount could not be fixed. He prayed to the court to declare the new amendment to the Finance Act illegal and unlawful and restrain the FBR authorities from harassing those running small and large scale businesses in the country.

Men linked to parking company scam seek bail

Usman Qayyum, the man linked to millions of rupees corruption in the Lahore Parking Company, approached the Lahore High Court for his bail here on Tuesday.

The petitioner moved the petition through his counsel saying that NAB authorities took him into custody on baseless grounds. The counsel said he also underwent 45-day physical remand but the NAB officials could not find anything against the law.

He said that NAB investigators failed to trace anything beyond his known sources of income and his assets were clear. He said the other accused had done bargaining with the NAB authorities over corruption charges against them. He asked the court to accept his bail plea and allow his release.

On April 27, NAB authorities arrested top five officials of the Lahore Parking Company, including chief executive officer of the company Taseer Ahmed, chief financial officer Usman Qayyum, general manager Faizan Wali and accounts manager Saad Rafique.