Supreme Court explains restoration of mobile top-up taxes in detailed verdict

By Shaheryar Ehsan on
July 5, 2019
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Back in May last year, the then Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had suspended taxes on mobile top-ups after public complaints regarding their high charge. In April 2019, the order was revoked and the mobile taxes and other charges were implemented again. Justice Qazi Faez Isa in a detailed verdict has now explained why the taxes have been restored.

It must be noted that when the verdict was being announced, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan differed with the views of Justice Isa saying that the Supreme Court correctly and properly exercised its power through Article 184(3) of the Constitution to suspend these taxes. The court could exercise its powers provided that the matters are of public importance and enforcement of fundamental human rights is required.

Justice Isa, however, noted that the verdict suspending the taxes neither recorded any reason for suspension nor did the verdict determine that the imposition of these taxes was without jurisdiction. He noted that the Supreme Court should act within precise parameters set by the Constitution. He further stated in the 13-page verdict protection from taxes, on which grounds the taxes were suspended, did not come in any of the fundamental human rights. However, doesn’t mean that the imposition of taxes cannot be challenged but they are the responsibility of the legislature.

This is the statement of Article 184(3) for reference:

Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 199, the Supreme Court shall, if it considers that a question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights conferred by Chapter I of Part II is involved, have the power to make an order of the nature mentioned in the said Article.

Do you think that the imposition of taxes on mobile top-ups is justified?

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