LAHORE - The issue of Sales Tax collection through electricity bills from different companies remained as the prominent matter at the Lahore High Court during last week.

LHC Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh restrained Lesco from collecting Sales Tax on Electricity bills and held that powers of collecting taxes rests only with Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). Eleven different companies had approached the LHC against Lesco. The companies, through their counsel, contended that Lesco had been issuing them heavy electricity bills with Sales Tax which they said was illegal and unlawful. “Lesco cannot collect Sales tax and by doing this, the company was in breach of its powers,” the counsel maintained.

The FBR lawyer, however, argued that Lesco was not collecting tax on its own but was doing this on the direction of federal department.

After hearing both sides, Justice Sheikh barred Lesco from collecting Sales Tax through electricity bills from the companies. The judge also directed FBR to give opportunity of hearing to the petitioners and take action in accordance with law if they were found defaulter of the due tax.

The other important decision that was delivered by the Lahore High Court during the last week, was about the dysfunctional laboratory of Environmental Protection Agency in the provincial metropolis. Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah ordered the EPA director general to make the Central Environmental Laboratory operational positively within next three months.

The court also directed the DG and the chief secretary to submit performance report on the EPA lab after a month. The order has been passed on a petition filed earlier to seek the central laboratory functional, as it was mandatory under the law to control the environment hazards.

EPA Director General Javed Iqbal submitted to the court that Rs158 million has been allocated for the labs and PC-1 of the plan is also prepared. Within one month, he added, the labs would be functional in light of the earlier order of this court.

The CJ also directed the Punjab chief secretary to inform the court after one month as to the period the labs would take to become totally functional. Also, through a constitutional petition, the Lahore High Court was urged to appoint a judicial commission to probe the preparation of incorrect results of the Intermediate examination for the current academic year.

The petition was filed by an Intermediate student, Palosha Khan, impleading the Lahore Board, Secretary Education, and the Punjab government as party. The petitioner contended that future of thousands of students is at stake due to inefficiency of the board as huge discrepancies and errors have been found out in examining the attempted papers.

Without any fault of the students, the petitioner said, they were being asked by their respective college administration to pay Rs700 each for getting their attempted papers rechecked.

The court was informed that it was third time that BISE was repeating the same mistake to a great embarrassment and problem of the students. “As such the situation demands a thorough inquiry through a judicial commission to find out the actual reasons for this repeated mistake which is also stoked fury among the students,” Khan maintained in her petition.

During the week, a petition was filed in LHC to seek probe into the alleged leakage of the secret information of an in-camera meeting of the National Security Committee, participated by both civil and the military leadership.

Advocate Ilyas Khan, through former law minister Babar Awan, contended that the leak and later publication of the in-camera proceedings of the committee meeting was a conspiracy to scandalise the country’s army. Even as the federal government has ordered an inquiry into the matter, some federal ministers allegedly played a role in supplying the information to media and publication of the same in an English daily.

The petitioner-lawyer prayed to the court for a direction to the interior minister, who has been entrusted investigations, to make public outcome of the inquiry and put names of all those involved in the national security breach on the ECL. He also urged the court to direct National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq to send a reference to the election commission for the disqualification of parliamentarians involved in the matter. Moreover, the LHC fixed November 2 as the next date of hearing of a petition against alleged non-implementation of the Nation Action Plan framed in 2014 to counter terrorism in the country.

Munir Ahmad, through his counsel Muhammad Azhar Siddque, urged the court to fix his petition for early hearing since the matter was of utmost importance in view of the fact that delay in the implementation of the National Action Plan, aimed to wipe off terrorism, will continue to hit snags.

His counsel alleged that the federal and the Punjab governments were reluctant to implement all 20 points of NAP.

The counsel argued before the court that security of citizens, maintenance of peace and unveiling the real hands behind this continual terror spate are inevitable to ensure economic progress and development of the country.

He said the NAP implementation will also go a long way to unearth the hand of the foreign agencies, particularly RAW, in perpetration of the terror actions in the country hiring the local mercenaries.

He urged the court that hearing of the petition may be held at the earliest as implementation of NAP in letter and spirit has is necessary to eradicate terrorism and supplement the efforts going on successfully at the level of Zarb-e-Azb operation of the Army.

During the week, the LHC called for the appearance of Interior secretary in person on the petitions which seek revocation of the MQM registration as political party and a treason case against its Qauid Altaf Hussain for uttering highly obnoxious remarks against Pakistan in a public speech on August 22.

Also, last week, the Lahore district courts employees demonstrated against the highhandedness, allegedly meted out to their colleague by some lawyers. The employees walked out of the courts up to judges’ gate of the Lahore High Court against high-handedness of a group of lawyers.

They alleged that Advocate Malik Imran and his associates manhandled court-reader Muhammad Faisal at Aiwan-i-Adal on a petty dispute erupted after they inquired of him location of a courtroom and he failed to guide them properly.

All the readers at civil and sessions courts, suspended their official work as soon as they learnt about the alleged incident. They gathered at the court premises and marched towards the high court. They stated that manhandling of the lawyers with the court staffers has become a routine matter.

LHC Registrar Khurshid Anwar Rizvi took notice of the protest and called the employees to his office for dialogue where District & Sessions Judge Nazeer Ahmad Gajana and district bar association president Arshad Jahangir Jhojha also reached. The registrar asked the protestors to go back to work and furnish complete details of the alleged incident in writing.

The protestors were assured of prompt action on the matter. Thereafter they dispersed and resumed their duties.