IN 2022-23, Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) arbitrarily raised property tax to such exorbitant levels, in some cases over 200 per cent, that a series of petitions were filed in the Sindh High Court (SHC) by residents of the area against the move.

Some petitions challenged the taxation formula, while others questioned whether the CBC was the correct entity to charge property tax at all. The SHC ruled that the CBC did not have the authority to charge property tax and that it was the domain of the provincial government.

The CBC then filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, and the final decision of the court is pending. However, in an interim ruling the apex court noted that the matter of property tax does come under the Sindh government, and appropriate legislation should be formulated by the government in this regard, and to share the legislation with the Supreme Court.

In response, the CBC has reacted rather aggressively against the petitioners by delisting their properties from the CBC system. About 200 properties have been affected by this move. This is despite the fact that the petitioners have paid in full all the conservancy and water charges for the year 2023-24, as well as property tax via challans, as has been ordered by the SHC.

Some petitioners, in fact, went above and beyond, and paid the full amount of property tax as per the original challan that had been issued by the CBC before the case was filed.

By delisting the properties of the said petitioners, the CBC has stopped utilities, such as water supply, and other services, like complaints resolution regarding faulty streetlights, garbage collection and such other matters.

Moreover, petitioners with delisted properties are prevented from selling, transferring, renovating or repairing their properties. These highhanded tactics by the CBC are reminiscent of colonial tactics to suppress any dissent. What must be realised is that Pakistani citizens have the right to go to Pakistani courts with their grievances, without having to face such coercive tactics.

The CBC action is truly a form of contempt of court. It should reactivate the accounts of the petitioners immediately, because there is absolutely no justification in arbitrarily blocking or delisting the said properties, and stopping services that have been paid for in advance. The current CBC attitude is causing mental anguish and monetary loss to the affected people.

Name withheld on request
Karachi

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Misplaced priorities
Updated 19 Jul, 2024

Misplaced priorities

The government must call its APC at the earliest and invite all stakeholders to take part; this matter cannot be delayed further.
Oman terror attack
19 Jul, 2024

Oman terror attack

THE normally peaceful sultanate of Oman was shaken by sectarian terrorism on Monday when militants belonging to the...
Urban flooding
19 Jul, 2024

Urban flooding

THE provincial authorities have been taking precautionary measures, or so we have been told, to cope with emergency...
A way forward
Updated 17 Jul, 2024

A way forward

Before political leaders inflict more damage, they must give talks a chance.
Export delusions
Updated 18 Jul, 2024

Export delusions

Plummeting exports as a ratio of GDP is one of the major reasons driving the current economic slowdown and the balance-of-payments crisis.
Diversity in UK politics
17 Jul, 2024

Diversity in UK politics

THE recent UK elections have ushered in the most diverse parliament in the nation’s history. Under the leadership...