Wednesday, the Sindh High Court enjoined cantonment boards from taking any coercive action against a large number of additional residents regarding the recovery of property and conservancy tax based on enhanced annual rental value (ARV), subject to payment of old debts.
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In response to approximately thirty identical petitions, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered cantonment boards to issue new challans based on the previous ARV plus 25% of the increased ARV.
Some attorneys filed vakalatnama (power of attorney) on behalf of the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) and Cantonment Board Faisal (CBF) when a two-judge bench presided by Justice Mohammad Junaid Ghaffar began hearing the petitions.
The bench ordered the attorneys for respective cantons to file remarks in multiple petitions and provide advance copies to the attorneys representing petitioners.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, a copy of an earlier order passed by another bench of the SHC on June 1 directing petitioners to secure at least 25% of the disputed amount was placed on record on behalf of the respondents.
The bench also noted that it had pursued the order in question and that the respondents’ solicitors’ argument appeared to be correct, adding that as a result, the interim orders issued by this bench earlier in these petitions were modified in light of the June 1 order.
The bench stated, “No coercive action shall be taken against the petitioners for the recovery of any arrears of property tax as well as conservation and water charges based on the enhanced annual rental value (ARV) up to the year 2022-23. This, however, is contingent upon the payment of all such taxes on the old/previous ARV through 2022-23.”
“As far as payment of these charges for the year 2023-2024 is concerned, the respective cantonment boards shall issue new challans based on the old/previous ARV in addition to an amount equal to 25 percent of the amount so increased in the enhanced ARV,” it added.
In addition to adjourning the hearing until Oct. 18, the bench ordered that challans be issued to the respective petitioners as soon as practicable and that they be given at least 15 days to make payment.
“The above arrangement in respect of payment of 25% amount on the enhanced ARV is subject to final outcome of these petitions”, it concluded.
Since last year, hundreds of residents of various cantonment boards have submitted approximately 30 identical petitions with the SHC opposing a property tax increase.
The petitioners, the majority of whom are residents of DHA and Clifton, challenged a letter issued on August 23, 2022 by the assistant director general, military land & cantonments boards, Rawalpindi, alleging that through this letter, an illegally exorbitant and arbitrarily assessed tax was levied under the guise of a house tax.