Mr. Saeed Ahmed Siddiqui, Add: Commissioner, Income Tax: for the Respondent
This complaint has not been signed by the complainant but by her authorized representative and when this was pointed out, the A.R has furnished an authority letter from the complainant authorizing him to sign the complaint on her (complainant’s) behalf.
2. The complainant, an Individual, is aggrieved by non-transferring of her wealth tax case from Sukkur to Karachi.
3. Brief facts of the case are that when the proceedings for the set aside Wealth Tax assessments for the assessment years 1994-95 to 1996-97 and pending normal assessments for 1999-2000 to 2000-01 were taken up, the A.R of the complainant moved an application to the Regional Commissioner of Income Tax (RCIT) in which two issues were raised:
a) that as per certificate dated 21.12.1996 an arrear of Rs.2,721,495 was shown outstanding against the complainant. This arrear of taxes was paid by the complainant on 26.02.1997 whereafter she approached the Department for clarifying as to which assessment years these arrears pertained to. Since no such clarification was being given, the complainant requested the RCIT to issue directions to the Taxation Officer to clarify the assessment years against which this amount has been adjusted.
b). The complainant also requested the RCIT for transfer of her case from Sukkur Zone to Karachi Zone on the ground that in the matter of assessment, she had no hope to “get free, fair and impartial justice at the hands of Taxation Officer, Sukkur”.
4. It is stated that in response to her application, the Additional Commissioner (HQ) Southern Region, Karachi, vide her letter dated 10.06.2006, directed the assessee to submit the reply to the statutory notices directly to the Taxation Officer, being the concerned authority. The learned A.R of the complainant has contended that instead of considering the complainant’s request for transfer of her case from Sukkur to Karachi, the RCIT directed the complainant to approach the same Taxation Officer against whom she had filed an application and that no opportunity of hearing was provided to the complainant which is maladministration. It is further stated that the Department has still not clarified as to how and for what years the amount of Rs.2,721,495 paid by her has been adjusted. It is, therefore, prayed that the case of the complainant may be ordered to be transferred from Sukkur Zone to Karachi Zone and necessary directions may also be issued for clarifying the position of payments of Rs.2,721,495.
5. Replying to the allegation in the complaint, the RCIT in his written report has stated that all the pending assessments in question in the case have since been finalized in the light of the history of the case and keeping in view the decision of the Appellate Tribunal and that the complainant’s request for transfer of her case from Sukkur Zone to Karachi Zone is neither supported by law nor by facts of the case. It is stated that the Commissioner of Income Tax, Sukkur Zone holds legal jurisdiction over the subject case and that this cannot be challenged under the provisions of law. It is further stated that the concerned Taxation Officer has performed his duties with due diligence and in accordance with the legal jurisdiction assigned to him. It is urged that complainant’s plea that she has no hope to “get free, fair and impartial justice at the hands of Taxation Officer Sukkur” is without any basis and can at best be termed as unfounded fears. It is further stated that the Additional Commissioner (HQ), under the direction of the RCIT, rightly advised the complainant to submit the reply to the statutory notices to the Taxation Officer, Sukkur since he held lawful jurisdiction over the case of the complainant. The D.R appearing for the Department has contended that the RCIT was right in not considering the application of the complainant for transfer of her case from Sukkur Zone to Karachi Zone as the complainant was conducting business in Sukkur and thus, the lawful jurisdiction lies with the Taxation Officer Sukkur. It is further contended that the complaint is devoid of any merit and may not be considered.
6. Parties have been heard and the record produced has been examined.
7. Since all the pending assessments have now been completed, therefore, the complainant’s request for transfer of her case has become infructuous and requires no further action. This was also agreed to by the A.R of the complainant during the course of hearing. However, when the application was made by the complainant to the RCIT for transfer of her case, he should have allowed an opportunity of hearing to the complainant and should have considered her grievances and submissions in this behalf. The RCIT in his letter to the complainant, instead of giving any decision on the complainant’s request for transfer of his record, directed her to comply with the statutory notices issued by the same officer for whom the complainant had expressed her lack of confidence. Disregarding and ignoring the request of the complainant without allowing her an opportunity of hearing was contrary to principle of natural justice and propriety and showed ineptitude and inattention which tantamounts to maladministration. The RCIT may not have acceded to the request of the complainant but equity demanded that he should have given her an opportunity of hearing. Similarly, not responding to the complainant’s request for disclosing as for which years the amount paid by her at Rs.2,721,495 has been adjusted also shows neglect, inattention and ineptitude in the discharge of duties and responsibilities by the tax officials. In the circumstances, it is recommended that:
i). Within 15 days of the receipt of this order, the Taxation Officer should inform the complainant by giving break-up of the assessment years in which the amount paid by her at Rs.2,721,495 has been adjusted.
ii). Compliance be reported within 15 days after doing the needful in terms of (i) above.