Friday, the Sindh High Court enjoined the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC), Defence Housing Authority (DHA), and other respondents from taking any coercive action against petitioners in eight additional identical petitions filed against a property tax increase until September 20.
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Residents of DHA and Clifton had petitioned the SHC, arguing that the challenged challans issued by CBC constituted double taxation, as they had already paid tax for the fiscal year 2022-23.
On Friday, when a two-judge bench led by Justice Mohammad Junaid Ghaffar began hearing the petitions, several attorneys filed power of attorney (vakalatnama) on behalf of the CBC and a counsel agreed to submit power on behalf of the DHA, and they requested time to file comments.
The bench was also informed that it had issued interim orders in two identical petitions on September 6.
The bench stated in its order that the hearing would be postponed until September 20 because the attorneys for the respondents required additional time to provide the court with appropriate comments.
“However, until the next hearing date, respondents shall not take coercive action against the petitioners,” it concluded.
Citing the defence secretary, CBC, DHA, Sindh excise & taxation secretary, and others as respondents, Shabnam Jabbar, Faisal Haroon, Tahir Dawood Siddiqui, and a number of other petitioners argued that after the promulgation of the 18th Constitutional Amendment, CBC was not entitled to recover any tax on immovable property because the legal question for such a determination had been pending in SHC since 2015.
In addition, they argued that, as a result of the constitutional amendment, the provincial government could levy taxes on immovable property, and that the CBC’s recovery of house tax was unconstitutional.
The petitioners urged the court to rule that the CBC lacked the authority to levy or collect house (property) and conservation tax.
In addition, they requested that the CBC withdraw challans issued to petitioners for the tax year 2022-23 and that the respondents and their officials be prohibited from levying such a tax.