ISLAMABAD: Sarina Isa, the wife of Justice Qazi Faez Isa, has complained to the chairman and the prosecutor general of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that the government had recently amended the Income Tax Ordinance (ITO) through the Finance (Supplementary) Bill simply to protect “top elected functionaries” from any criminal proceedings for disclosing personal tax information about her.
In a two-page letter, Mrs Isa said Law Minister Farogh Naseem broke the law only to protect himself from criminal proceedings through an amendment in Section 216 of the ITO for violating the confidentiality of her tax records at a time when a detailed judgment of the Supreme Court in the Qazi Faez Isa review case was awaited.
The amendment empowers government functionaries and officials to take decisions in future against senior officials, their spouses and children or ‘benamidars’.
Sarina Isa’s letter named as respondents the law minister, former attorney general Anwar Mansoor, the chief of Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) and prime minister’s adviser Mirza Shahzad Akbar, and Federal Board of Revenue chairman Muhammad Ashfaq Ahmed.
She said Section 216 of the ITO ensures confidentiality by making it clear that if an individual other than an income tax department official accesses a taxpayer’s record, the action will be considered a criminal offence.
Sarina Isa recalled that in her review petition filed before the Supreme Court, she had sought action against the two individuals.
Anticipating that the two officials may face criminal proceedings, an amendment was made to the law.
The fact that the clause in the amended law reading “it shall always be deemed to have been so added”, implies a clear admission that they committed an offence under Section 216 of the ITO, she said.
She stated that drafting the amendment to section 216, a “non-money matter”, and inserting it in the finance bill was “illegal and dishonest”.
Thus another offence was committed as Section 9 (a) of the National Accountability Ordinance says if anyone in authority misuses his power to gain benefit or favour or undue benefit in any taxation matter, he commits the offence of corruption and corrupt practices.
Sarina Isa deplored the “vilification campaign launched against me through troll and spread through Twitter and pseudo-journalists”. She asked the chairman and the prosecutor general of NAB to take action against the individuals who violated Section 216 of the ITO.
Meanwhile, Farogh Naseem and Mirza Shahzad Akbar said in a joint statement that they had received the letter written by Mrs Sarina Isa in which she “as usual” levelled “baseless, fake and mala fide allegations” against them.
“We are of the considered view that we have enough tolerated the nonsensical allegations by the lady and those behind her, and have decided to issue an appropriate
defamation notice and take them to the court of law for loss and damage to our reputation, which has, inter alia, been occasioned through the letter in question,” the statement said.
Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2022