ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial seems concerned over reports that cases pending in courts across the country have bottled up claims involving a staggering amount of over Rs3 trillion.
An informed source told Dawn that the CJP office had asked Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan to look into the matter and furnish a report within a week about the veracity of figures regarding appeals filed by the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) that are awaiting decisions by different courts.
Reports about the backlog of cases surfaced during a Feb 22 meeting called by Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, AGP Khan and representatives of the FBR and Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority also attended the meeting.
It was disclosed that a number of cases were awaiting decision by different courts across the country, but the tax department suggested that instead of filing cases, it would be wise that the mechanism of “alternative dispute resolution” was explored first. The tax laws have a provision for such a process.
According to the source, the IHC has already constituted a two-judge bench to take up tax-related matters from March 10. The bench comprises Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Babar Sattar.
The meeting was informed that it was due to the lack of governance demonstrated by different organs of the state that led the World Justice Project (WJP) to place Pakistan as low as 130 out of 139 countries in the rule of law index.
The meeting was told that 1,298 FBR cases were pending imvolving an amount of Rs232.66 billion tax claims alone in the IHC. According to figures placed by the FBR before the meeting, 90,426 tax-related matters were pending in different courts involving Rs3.1 trillion tax revenue being claimed by the FBR.
Out of the Rs3.1 trillion, cases involving Rs2.5 trillion were pending with tax commissioners while a total of 58,937 cases involving Rs950 billion were pending in appellate tribunals.
Likewise. about Rs410 billion tax revenue claims were pending in superior courts. Besides a total of 2,959 cases were pending in the Supreme Court involving Rs72.2 billion tax revenue.
In the Sindh High Court, 2,238 cases worth Rs195.49 billion tax revenue were pending.
Tax claims amounting to a total of Rs234.71 billion in 5,133 cases were pending in the Lahore High Court while 317 cases pending in the Peshawar High Court involved Rs76.04 billion.
Similary, 21 FBR cases were pending in the Balochistan High Court, wherein Rs4 billion tax revenue was claimed.
Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2022