LAHORE - Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah yesterday sought assistance from attorney general of Pakistan as how PTV fee was being levied through electricity bills.

As the hearing commenced yesterday, the PTV managing director through his counsel told the court that the fee has been levied under Wireless Telegraphic Act 1933. At this, the chief justice observed that in these modern times such anachronistic and outdated laws have been implemented in Pakistan to extract fee from common people.

“How could the PTV fee be levied on television apparatus when other wireless devices such as mobile phones, tablets and wireless sets have been exempted from any such levy,” the CJ said in his remarks while terming it an act of discrimination.

CJ Shah further issued notices to the AGP to assist the court as how the PTV fee was being levied through electricity bills.

He observed that the Constitution must be interpreted in accordance with the changing needs of time. “When the government is not levying such fee on other electronic and wireless gadgets then how PTV fee is being collected from the masses,” he added.

Advocate Sheraz Zaka, on behalf of the petitioner, contended that the PTV fee levied was discriminatory and in violation of fundamental rights. He also contended that the PTV fee had also been imposed on those citizens who did not have a television set. He said even in mosques and graveyards this levy has been imposed in bills to meet the expenses of information ministry cell and massive advertisements of government campaigning.

The court would resume hearing on September 20.

PCSIR lab be de-sealed: The Lahore High Court ordered to de-seal PCSIR Laboratory temporarily with directions to the secretary excise & taxation as to why it was sealed at the first place.

Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah heard the petition challenging sealing of the laboratory for alleged tax default, and put off further hearing until July 25.

The CJ observed that the PCSIR was otherwise not a federal government department and not liable to pay the property tax.

The CJ allowed functioning of the laboratory in view of its research work till decision of the petition and directed the excise department to de-seal the lab. The judge also asked attorney general to assist the court on next hearing.

Earlier, law officer Anwaar Hussain told the court that there were a number of judgments which were conflicting about the matter in question. He quoted judgments delivered in cases of NBP and PCB that had ruled that the federal departments were supposed to pay tax to provincial departments.

The PCSIR filed the petition and submitted that Punjab Excise and Taxation department sent the lab a notice for recovery of property tax amounting Rs20 million from 1996 to 2016. The PCSIR counsel maintained that the provincial departments could not recover tax from federal departments.

He further told the court that the excise department sealed the laboratory for non-payment of the property tax that had been seriously affecting research work.