Sunday Jan 16, 2022
Expressing dismay over the treatment meted out to 82-year-old Abdul Hamid Khan, the president said that "their heads should hang in shame" for the inconvenience caused.
“Punitive action must be taken along the entire line of decision makers in this case and the FBR chairman should ensure that those responsible, in particular, and others, in general, go through courses to learn priorities and courtesy," he said.
The president while rejecting FBR’s appeal observed that it appeared that unlawful treatment was meted out "with a view to irritate and humiliate" the aging pensioner.
The bureau had refused to refund Khan a paltry sum on frivolous grounds and dragged the citizen into unnecessary litigation spanning over a year.
Khan had claimed a refund of Rs 2,333 on his income tax return for the year 2020 and submitted requisite documents of advance tax deduction of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited and cell phone company bills on October 19, 2020.
According to APP, Khan submitted an e-application on October 19, 2020, followed by representation to the FBR chairman on December 24, 2020.
The FBR unit officer rejected his refund claim on January 29, 2021, on the grounds that the applicant had failed to furnish the original certificates required for authentication.
Khan then took up the matter with the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) to seek redressal of his complaint.
The FTO investigated the matter and ordered FBR to revisit the impugned order and pass a fresh order after providing the complainant the opportunity for hearing as per the law.
The ombudsman further ordered the FBR to identify and initiate disciplinary proceedings against the official who passed the impugned order in derogation of the law and procedures and dragged the aging taxpayer into unnecessary litigation as well as report compliance within 45 days.
Consequently, the FBR filed a representation with the president against the original order of the FTO.
President Alvi rejected the representation of the FBR and upheld the FTO’s decision.
The president said that in case the unit officer was not satisfied with the copies of the certificates, he could have not only got the same verified from the PTCL and cellphone companies, but verification was also possible online.
The president termed the failure of the officer to verify the bills himself as shirking from responsibility and an act of maladministration.
He upheld that the act of the officer was a mockery and travesty of law, procedure and instructions of the FBR.
While rejecting the representation of the FBR, the president said that "this must be the most pitiful and shameful use of bureaucratic authority" and regretted that the FBR official had wasted the time of the department, the Tax Mohtasib and the President of Pakistan over a paltry sum of Rs 2,333 and that the matter had lingered for over a year.
He also deplored that "no one in the long chain of bureaucrats in FBR took note of the unfairness, pettiness and superfluousness of the matter".