LHC Seeks Explanation of Appointment of Ineligible Person as Chairman ATIR

The Lahore High Court (LHC) has given a deadline of May 4, 2023, to Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Secretaries of Establishment Division and Law, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP), and Chairman/Judicial Member to submit a reply to the appointments of an ineligible person as Chairman in Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue, Pakistan (ATIR).

The LHC has issued notices to the said high-ups of the government functionaries.

Details of the case revealed that Prime Minister, through a notification dated 14.04.2023, made the appointment of a junior person as Chairman ATIR.

This notification has been challenged before LHC with the request that the LHC may set aside the notification dated 14.04.2023 for the appointment of a junior Judicial Member as Chairman and to direct the competent authority to forthwith appoint the most senior member of the ATIR as Chairman as per the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Al-Jihad Trust case.

Tax lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt told this correspondent that the Ministry of Law (MOL) has made a mockery of the law during the tenure of the present Government and on the issue of the appointment of Chairman ATIR during the last two months its the second time that doors of the LHC have been knocked to seek justice.

Earlier on the appointment of a junior Judicial Member as Chairman, MOL had reversed back the illegal notification on the basis of a constitutional petition Waheed Shahzad Butt Versus Federation of Pakistan (WP No. 7303/2023) but after the lapse of two months same episode has been repeated without any fear of accountability.

The LHC noted that the petitioner had found the present appointment is in violation of Rule 3(7) read with Rule 8 of the ATIR (Appointment of Chairperson and Members) Rules, 2020, same is also in contradiction with Rule 8(3-B) of the Civil Servant Rules, 1973.

Petitioner has also challenged the amendment made in Section 130 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. Conferring of power of subordinate legislation to the Prime Minister is also violative of the law laid down in the M/s Mustafa Impex case (PLD 2016 SC 808) and Article 242 of the Constitution.

The petitioner has been represented by Ch. Anwaar-ul-Haq, Tahir Mehmood Butt, and Khurram Shahzad Butt and assailed notification dated 14.04.2023, whereby respondent No. 5 (Mian Tauqeer Aslam) has been appointed as Chairman (BS-22), ATIR, on acting charge basis, till the appointment of the regular incumbent. The petitioner has also challenged amendment made in Section 130 through the Tax Laws Amendment Act, 2020 on the ground that the amendment could not have been brought Money Bill, as has already been held by the Supreme Court in PLD 2017 SC 28.

Mirza Nasar Ahmad, Additional Attorney General, and Syed Sajjad Haider Rizvi, Assistant Attorney General for the Federation of Pakistan accept the notice. Since vires of rules and laws are challenged, therefore, notice under Order XXVII-A of CPC is also issued to the Attorney General for Pakistan.

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