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Property, vehicle purchase ban on non-filers was violation of Article 23: Hammad

Property, vehicle purchase ban on non-filers was violation of Article 23: Hammad

KARACHI: Minister of State for Finance Hammad Azhar has said that the ban on non-filers of tax returns to buy or sell new cars and property was reversed as it was violation of Article 23 of the constitution.

Talking to media, the minister of state said that the step was not taken under any pressure from the automobile companies or property developers.

“There was no pressure on us by any lobby,” he said, adding that even if there was, “we would never concede an inch on any proposal that in our mind we feel is for the best of the country.” He said nobody from the auto sector or property developers even contacted the government when this measure was taken up.

Article 23 of the constitution states “[e]very citizen shall have the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property in any part of Pakistan, subject to the Constitution and any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the public interest.”

He said plenty of case law exists where “reasonable restrictions” has been interpreted, and since the article spells out a fundamental right, all these interpretations have taken a very narrow view on what can be considered “reasonable restrictions”.

Further, registration of properties is a provincial subject, he said. “Any restriction placed by a law passed by the federal government can be considered as an encroachment on the mandate of the provincial government,” and thereby challenged in court.

In addition, he said the ban, which was effected through Section 227C of the finance act passed by the PML(N) government as its departing budget presented plenty of “practical difficulties”, such as “differentiating between overseas Pakistanis, retired people, and younger people who might own a car but are not required to file tax returns”. “The law allows for a huge segment of people to not file returns,” he said. “The previous government did not think about that when they passed this ban. We are working on a mechanism that is workable and practical instead of a blanket ban to disincentivise non-filers.”