LAHORE: The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has directed all the tax officials not to entertain tax-related issues which have already been addressed by the FTO under the Federal Ombudsmen Institutional Reforms Act (FOIRA) 2013.
In this regard, the FTO registrar has issued written instructions to the FBR chairman and asked him to make sure that the legal position is communicated to all the employees including those performing appellate functions, tribunals, courts or authorities administering/adjudicating relevant legislation under the FTO Ordinance, 2001.
A local tax lawyer, explaining the provisions of the FOIRA-2013, said that the Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue (ATIR) and Commissioner Inland Revenue Appeals (CIR-A) could not exercise jurisdiction to address an issue pending with FTO under complaint or review under the FOIRA. He added that the act would bring comprehensive reforms in the institution of an ombudsman and officials non-compliant with orders might be sent to jail for up to six months.
The lawyer further explained that Section 18 of FOIRA shall reduce unnecessary litigation at dual/multi-forums and authorities in normal appeal hierarchy shall also be restrained from creating parallel litigation.
According to Section 18, no court or authority shall have jurisdiction to entertain a matter which falls within the jurisdiction of an ombudsman, nor should any court or authority assume jurisdiction in respect of any matter pending with or decided by an ombudsman. Further, under Section 24 the provisions of FOIRA shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force.
The FOIRA suggests various judicial powers to Federal Ombudsmen of Pakistan including strict action for non-filing of comments by the agency within time given by Ombudsman and disciplinary action, temporary injunction, power of Civil Court to grant stay/temporary injunction and implementation of orders/recommendations by exercising powers of Civil Judge to execute decree against a judgement debtor including arrest and attachment of salary etc, limitation to file Review and Representation and its disposal within specified time.
The office of the federal ombudsman was established in 1983. At present, five ombudsmen are functioning at the federal level in the country. The office is a core institution where the grievances of people are addressed speedily and free of charge.