Wednesday February 01, 2023

JI moves SHC against collection of municipal charges through KE bills

September 24, 2022

The Jamaat-e-Islami challenged in the Sindh High Court on Friday the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s decision to collect municipal utility charges and other taxes through electricity bills.

Filing a petition in the high court, JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman submitted that the KMC administrator had clarified in sections of the print and electronic media that the collection of fire and conservancy charges had been assigned to KE through electricity bills on behalf of the KMC.

He said the Sindh government had also issued a notification on April 12, 2022, authorising the KMC to impose any tax or fees on the subject enumerated in Para II of Schedule V of the Sindh local government act.

Rehman said that water and conservancy services charges were earlier being collected through Karachi Water and Sewerage Board bills as per different areas and categories of properties, including residential, commercial, industrial and amenity, but now the mode of determination of the tax had been totally changed and linked with electricity units charged by the KE.

He contended that the impugned action of the KMC is unlawful and in violation of local government law, which says that prior to the imposition of any tax its publication is necessary and every citizen, liable to be taxed, should know as to what type of tax is being imposed and naturally to raise any objection to the tax.

The petitioner argued that the consumption of electricity units had nothing to do with fire and conservancy charges, which had a totally different dynamic as there may be a property consuming more units but fewer municipal services in an area as compared to a big property consuming fewer units of electricity.

The petitioner questioned the credibility of the power utility company and submitted that the KE performance, especially in the collection of bills, is highly doubtful and facing objections from members of the public, as the power utility is “well-known” for overbilling and issuance of incorrect bills.

He said that the power utility company had been given a limited licence for generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and it could not indulge in the collection of taxes on behalf of the municipal corporation.

The JI leader submitted that the performance and reputation of the KMC was also questionable as the entire city had become a dump of garbage where there was no proper cleanliness, sewerage water was flowing on roads, roads were damaged. and no municipal services were being provided to the citizens.

He submitted that the transfer of fire and conservancy charges to the KE is with a mala fide intention and aims to provide benefits and support on account of services charges through the KE. He said the rules framed by the Sindh government was nothing but bad laws to facilitate the KMC in its “mala fide designs” to extort more money and increase the tax burden on the public.

The court was requested to declare that municipal utility charges and taxes imposed under a resolution of the KMC as illegal and without lawful authority and to restrain the KE from the collection these charges through electricity bills. He also sought an injunction against the impugned notifications of het KMC and the Sindh government with regard to the collection of taxes in violation of the law.