ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court took notice of unreasonable tax deduction from mobile phones “pre-paid calling cards and easy load” on Thursday when Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar sought justification from the quarters concerned for the high cess.
The chief justice took notice of the matter while he was heading a five-judge bench hearing a different case.
Soon after the closing of the case, the chief justice called Attorney General (AG) Ashtar Ausaf and highlighted public complaints that an unreasonable and high amount of tax/other charges were being deducted from the topping up of the balance through easy load and scratch cards besides taxes on the calls.
The chief justice asked the AG to inform the court about the taxes and other charges being deducted on every mobile phone charge, saying the court had been told that for each Rs100 charge, Rs40 was deducted in the form of different taxes.
CJP says apex court has been told that for each Rs100 charge, Rs40 is deducted in the form of different taxes
“Is this not exploitation?” Chief Justice Nisar wondered and said the matter involved public interest.
Later while dictating the order, the chief justice issued a notice to the AG to explain what amount was being deducted or taxed on the calling card/easy load of Rs100.
He also issued notices to the Federal Board of Revenue and all mobile phone service companies operating in the country. The matter has been fixed for hearing before a regular bench comprising three judges on May 8.
Abidi’s case transferred
The Supreme Court transferred the contempt of court case against outspoken former PPP Senator Faisal Raza Abidi to a bench other than the one headed by the chief justice.
“Let the matter be heard by another bench,” the chief justice stated while dictating the order but did not accept Mr Abidi’s request to transfer the case to the Supreme Court registry at Karachi from Islamabad.
The court had taken up the case for Mr Abidi’s statements considered to be contemptuous against the chief justice.
Advocate Dr Amjed Hussain Bokhari, who represented Mr Abidi, drew attention of the Supreme Court to two miscellaneous applications moved on behalf of his client requesting the court to transfer the case to the Karachi registry of the apex court and that the case should not be heard by the judges who had taken oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO).
One of the applications had said that the applicant had taken a consistent stand against the PCO and believed in each and every word of the constitution. It said that the applicant had struggled for democracy and constitutionalism throughout his life.
Therefore, the application pleaded, the court should constitute a new bench consisting of judges who had not taken oath under the PCO so that the true spirit of the constitution was upheld and to ensure fair and just adjudication of the allegations levelled against Mr Abidi.
The application contended that the doctrine of independence and accountability of judges as expounded by Islamic jurisprudence, constitution of Pakistan and the doctrine of due process of law and rule of law envisaged that a new bench comprising “no-PCO judges” might be constituted to protect fundamental rights of applicant during his trial.
Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2018