ISLAMABAD    -   The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday granted leave to appeal against Sindh High Court (SHC) judg­ment regarding imposition of federal excise duty (FED) on telecom sector at rate of 75 paisa per call if it exceeds five minutes.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel con­ducted hearing of the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) appeal against the SHC judgment.

Three telecom companies had chal­lenged the imposition of FED through constitutional petitions before the SHC which was levied on the telecom sec­tor through insertion of Serial No 6A in Table 11 of First Schedule of the Fed­eral Excise Act, 2005 vide Finance Act, 2021.

The SHC on 18-10-2021 had declared that the impugned legislation as FED through entry 6A of First Schedule of the Federal Excise Act, 2005 on mo­bile phone call services was ultra vires of the Constitution. The FBR being ag­grieved by this judgment approached the apex court.

During the proceeding, Hafiz Ahsaan Ahmad Khokhar, appearing on behalf of FBR, argued that the law relating to imposition of duties of excise on tele­com companies was legally amend­ed and inserted through Finance Act 2021. He said that the Parliament was competent and authorised under Arti­cle 73 read with Entry No 44 of Part 1 of the 4th Schedule of the Constitution to legislate on any federal legislative subject, adding the duties of excise has clearly been mentioned as Entry No 44 of Part 1 of the 4th Schedule of the Con­stitution.

Khokhar contended that SHC has ig­nored this constitutional and legal as­pect, therefore the high court judgment was not maintainable and required to be set aside. He further said that Fed­eral Excise Act is a federal law with its application throughout Pakistan with­in the competency of Parliament to leg­islate.

He said that SHC was not legally justified to make redundant the pro­visions of amendment introduced through Finance Act 2021-2022 by solely relying on its judgment (2017 PTD 1) where leave to appeal has al­ready been granted and its opera­tion had been suspended by the apex court on 10-10-2016 much before the announcement of the present im­pugned judgment.

The counsel of the mobile compa­nies contended that the identical mat­ters are already pending with Supreme Court, and therefore the instant may also be clubbed therewith.

The bench after hearing both sides, allowed leave to appeal and ordered to club all identical cases and ordered the SC office to fix them within one month as the FBR counsel requested that huge payment of tax is involved in the matter