ISLAMABAD: The wife of Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Thursday submitted written replies to the commissioner of offshore taxation, Islamabad zone, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s judgement in the offshore property case.
The Supreme Court had directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) through its short order on June 20 to seek explanation on the nature and source of funding for three offshore properties in the United Kingdom from Justice Isa’s wife, Cerina M. Isa, and his two children — Arsalan Faez Isa and Sehar Isa. The direction was issued as part of squashing of a presidential reference against Justice Isa.
Ms Cerina Isa reached the office of the commissioner Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) Zone Islamabad, Zulfiqar Khan, who deals with offshore taxation. She submitted written replies personally in response to three notices issued to her and her two children.
Normally tax proceedings do not require presence of the taxpayer and cases can be pleaded through a lawyer or through email or mail correspondence. However, Ms Cerina (Zarina) personally submitted the replies.
In Spanish, Zarina is spelt as ‘Cerina’.
Status of replies may be cleared within three to four days
Notices were issued under section 176 of the income tax ordinance to seek explanation from the spouse of Justice Isa and his two children regarding source and purchase of the three properties. This section give an opportunity to a taxpayer to explain his or her position regarding the assets.
The commissioner’s office will now scrutinise the written replies, according to a source in the FBR. The status of the replies would be cleared within three to four days, the source said, adding it was possible to give further opportunity of explanation in case of insufficient information under the same section.
The status of further notice depends on the nature of contents in the written replies, another source told Dawn. Asked about the show-cause notice, the source said it would be cleared in the next few days.
The AEOI pasted notice outside the residence of Justice Isa after three notices went undelivered.
The Supreme Court has limited the scope of investigation only to three UK-based properties. These properties were bought between 2003 and 2013.
The first property was purchased in the name of Ms Cerina Isa in 2004 for 236,000 pounds, the second one in 2013 in her and her son Arsalan Faez Isa’s name for 245,000 pounds, and the third one in her and daughter Sehar Isa’s name for 270,000 pounds.
According to the Supreme Court decision, the wife and children of Justice Isa will furnish their replies to the notices along with evidence and if any of them is outside, it will be their responsibility to timely file the response since the proceedings before the commissioner will not be adjourned or delayed for the reason of non-availability in Pakistan.
On receipt of their replies, the commissioner will give them an opportunity of hearing and make an order in accordance with the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001.
The proceedings would be concluded before the commissioner within 60 days of the date of receipt of the notices and the order would be issued within 75 days. This order will be submitted to the FBR chairman.
Within seven days of the issuance of the order by the commissioner, the FBR chairman will furnish a report of finding and case file record to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) through its secretary — the registrar of the Supreme Court — about the proceedings. The secretary will place the report before SJC chairman (Chief Justice of Pakistan) who would have the report laid before the SJC for consideration, action or proceedings in relation to Justice Isa.
Before the hearing began, information was leaked to media that Ms Cerina Isa would reach FBR headquarters to replies to the notices.
Meanwhile, all media persons reached the FBR headquarters at the time of hearing of the case.
Ironically, no one in the FBR headquarters was aware about the development and later it was found that the hearing would be held in the Evacuee Trust building, a couple of kilometres away from the FBR building.
No official word was received about who spread the wrong information.
Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2020