KARACHI: The Jamaat-i-Islami on Friday moved the Sindh High Court against collection of the Municipal Utility Charges and Taxes (MUCT) for the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) through electricity bills of the K-Electric.
JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman and others petitioned the SHC stating that the MUCT was imposed in the light of a resolution, passed by the Karachi administrator, which was illegal and without following the provision of law.
Citing the ministry of energy (power division), Sindh chief secretary, local government secretary, city administrator and KE as respondents, the petitioners submitted that linking MUCT with consumption of electricity was against the law.
They stated that the power utility was “known for its poor performance, faulty and overbilling and extortion of money in different names and accounts and now MUCT has also been outsourced to the KE”.
They maintained that KE was a private company and had a limited licence for generation, transmission and distribution of power only and the agreement between ministry of energy and KE had nothing about collection of different charges and it could not be indulged in collection of taxes on behalf of the KMC.
JI says linking utility charges with power consumption is against law
The petitioners further submitted that after approval of the Sindh chief minister the chief secretary had issued a notification on Jan 21, allowing provincial energy department and KMC to engage KE for collection of MUCT under the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA), 2013 and in furtherance of this notification, the provincial government issued another notification on April 12 in this regard.
They contended that it had been done in contravention of relevant law as the SLGA was very clear that prior to imposition of any tax, its publication was necessary as every citizen, liable to be taxed, should know as to what type of tax was being imposed and naturally to raise objection on such a tax.
They argued that bypassing all laws and norms of natural justice, the administrator on the basis of a so-called summary, put up by metropolitan commissioner, had signed the resolution for imposition and collection of MUCT via electricity bills.
They submitted that water & conservancy taxes were earlier being collected by the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board as per different areas and categories of the properties — residential, commercial, industrial and amenity — but now the mode of determination of such taxes had totally been changed and linked with power consumption.
The petitioners argued that in the impugned mode of MUCT collection, no exception has been made for those where more than one electricity meter was installed and if there were four meters in a house, the MUCT would be included in every bill.
They submitted that the rate of MUCT being introduced was nothing but a slow poison and trap for public as it may be increased any time just through a signed resolution of administrator.
They further submitted that every citizen was equal and the impugned action was discriminatory and against Article 25 of the Constitution as particularly citizens of Karachi were being treated discriminately as no such system of tax collection has been imposed in the areas other than Karachi and thus the impugned action was unconstitutional and illegal.
They pleaded to declare collection of MUCT via power bills illegal and to set aside the linking of such tax with consumption of electricity.
They also asked the SHC to declare the nonfictions in question and resolution signed by the administrator void and sought a restraining for KE from collecting MUCT in power bills.
Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2022