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October 13, 2017

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Tareen disqualification case: Question before us is of honesty, says SC

Tareen disqualification case: Question before us is of honesty, says SC

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the honesty of PTI Secretary General Jahangir Tareen while not paying tax on the income generated from the leased land. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar resumed hearing the petition filed by PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi, seeking disqualification of Tareen for non-disclosure of his assets and ownership of offshore companies.

The bench observed Sikandar Bashir Mohmand, the counsel for Tareen, had not yet convinced the court that his client was exempted from paying tax on the income generated from the agriculture land he got on lease.

“Suppose we assume while examining the question of tax that Tareen was required to pay the tax on the income generated from the leased land but he did not, then what will be its impact,” Justice Umer Ata Bandial asked. The counsel for Tareen replied that his client was a regular tax payer, hence he could not be disqualified on this basis and claimed that his client did not tell a lie, asking the court to mention the stage where his client had lied.

Chief Justice Saqib told the learned counsel that the court was not yet convinced that a contractor who got a land on lease was exempted from paying tax on the income generated from the said land.

“We are connecting you to the honesty as you showed one part of the income from owned land in the nomination papers, while the other from leased land was not," the chief justice asked the counsel, questioning as to what is the consequence of making false declarations.

The chief Justice further observed that there was a contradiction between the statements of his client. “Where it is written that your client did not tell a lie”, the chief justice remarked. Mohmand, however, replied that there were ambiguities in Punjab's agriculture tax laws and that, as a contractor of leased land, Tareen was not liable to pay income tax on revenue generated from the land.

He contended that Entry 14 in the nomination form had been held in 2013 CLC 1481 to be ambiguous and it was further held that the benefit of any ambiguity in nomination form was to be given to the candidate.

On this score too, he contended that without conceding, a declaration of disqualification ought not to be issued against his client. He submitted that his client had no mala fide intention for not understanding the law.

The chief justice however, told the learned counsel that “honesty is a state of mind which can only be proved through a person’s conduct”. The learned counsel submitted that his client did not give wrong declaration. “If you did then what would be the consequences”, the chief justice asked, adding, “Rs 70 was paid as tax but shown it as Rs 700 then what will be its impact.”

Mohmand contended that as tax was payable by the owner of a piece of land, the contractor was not required to do the same. At this, the chief justice said that income from agricultural land generated in the form of rent to the person who owns it and in the form of harvest revenue. Muhammad Akram Sheikh, counsel for the petitioner, submitted before the court that the bad intention of the learned counsel for the respondent had already been established.

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