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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday again ordered the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to furnish a comprehensive report on the assets of Aleema Khanum, the sister of Prime Minister Imran Khan and identified as the benamidar of a property in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took exception to FBR Member Inland Revenue Habibullah’s assertion that the department had initiated action, but in Lahore.

The court observed that the FBR representative had deliberately frustrated its earlier directive for providing details of the properties believed to be owned by Aleema Khanum.

During the last hearing on Nov 30, the court was told that the information regarding the property details of Aleema Khanum was available in Lahore.

On a suo motu notice, the court had taken up a case relating to illegal transfer of money from Pakistan to foreign countries and ordered the FBR to furnish complete details of properties of Aleema Khanum in a sealed envelope.

Notices issued to DHA, Bahria Town over non-issuance of sale deed to plot owners to evade tax

At a previous hearing, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had submitted a report containing a list of 44 politically exposed individuals or their benamidars who possessed properties in the UAE.

The list also contained the name of Aleema Khanum and said that the FIA had already issued a notice to her through email as well as delivery at the home address, but her servant said that she was abroad.

Later through an affidavit, Aleema Khanum conceded that she owned The Lofts East 1406 — a property bought from the funds generated from her business dealings overseas.

But that property had already been disposed of and the FBR was informed about its purchase and sale, the affidavit stated.

On Thursday, the court told FBR Chairman Jahnazaib Khan that the board was told to establish the relevant inquiry cell in Islamabad so that everything was done here, instead of other cities, but the directive was not heeded to.

Expressing dismay, the court even ordered suspension of the member inland revenue, but the FBR chairman told the court that the official had already been transferred to the science and technology department, but since the official who had replaced him had not taken charge, Mr Habibullah had to appear in court today.

The court also inquired about the list of 20 individuals who had transferred money from Pakistan to purchase properties abroad. After learning that nothing had been done in this regard also, the court decided to issue contempt of court notices to the chairman and the member inland of the FBR. But finally the court provided another opportunity to the officials and withdrew its decision to issue contempt notices to them.

The court was bitter over the fact that despite the help extended by the FIA, the FBR had wasted one month and done nothing to proceed further. And instead of moving on a fast track, the FBR has chosen to continue in a routine manner.

“You are defending those persons who had transferred money abroad through illegal means to buy properties in foreign countries,” the chief justice observed.

Both the FBR chairman and the FIA director general assured the court that they would furnish a final report before the Supreme Court next Tuesday.

Expressing displeasure, the court said that it was not satisfied with the performance of the FBR since its orders were not being implemented in letter and spirit and the matter had been put in cold storage.

The case was adjourned for the second week of December.

Notices issued to DHA, Bahria Town

In another case, the same bench issued notices to the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and the Bahria Town (Pvt) Ltd about non-issuance of sale deed to transfer properties or title to the owners of the plots in their housing schemes.

The notices were issued during a suo motu hearing regarding complaints that the Bahria Town did not transfer the ownership of the plots in the housing scheme only to prevent the payment of capital value tax and other cess to the government on the registration of the properties.

The notice to the DHA was issued when advocate Azhar Siddiq, representing the Bahria Town, informed the court that this practice of not issuing sale deed was prevailing all over the country, even by housing societies like the DHA.

The court observed that both the DHA and the Bahria Town were two strong and large developers and any guideline so developed would be followed by the owners of other housing schemes also.

And when the court dictated that “on highlighting and mentioning by Mr Siddiq about the practice throughout Pakistan of not issuing sale deed while transferring the ownership of the property”, the counsel requested not to mention his name in the order.

Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan cited relevant laws namely the Registration Act and the Transfer of Property Act, saying that without sale deed, the title of properties could not be transferred.

The court also wondered why the entire amount of money on the transfer of the title should not be recovered from the two housing societies, saying that the DHA was also subservient to the laws of Pakistan as any other housing society of the country.

The case will be taken up again on Dec 13.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2018

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