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Reversal of ruling on phone cards

A three-member Bench of the Supreme Court, on Wednesday, restored all taxes on mobile phone top-up cards. Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who read out the short order, said the top court “would not interfere in the matters of public revenue and tax collection”. The court also withdrew the stay order placed on the collection of mobile phone taxes while wrapping up the suo motu case.
In June 2018, the apex court had suspended the deduction of taxes on prepaid cards provided by mobile phone service providers and the decision was widely hailed by users of cellular services. The judgement provided substantial relief to people as mobile phone cards were heavily taxed. Understandably, it was an interim relief and the final verdict was to be given by the court after examining all aspects of the issue in detail. The court has stated that it would give reasons when detailed judgement is released for restoring taxes on cellular phones but obviously the court has reached to the conclusion that it was not appropriate for the judiciary to intervene in financial matters. There was an overwhelming perception that frequent interventions by courts and issuance of stay orders in financial and also administrative matters, sometimes, harms smooth functioning of the Government. There is a trichotomy of powers in the Constitutional scheme of things, which must be accepted with open heart and adhered to by all pillars of the state; otherwise the state cannot function as it should. The suspension of tax on mobile phones dented the process of revenue collection as the Government received a hefty amount from this source. It is because of this that the Attorney General and legal counsels for all the provinces supported the restoration of the taxes, saying a major source of revenue for their governments had been blocked by the suspension. But it is also a fact that the cellular phone industry has oppressively been taxed and there was a need for rationalization of these taxes. Lower rates on phone calls and data would encourage increased use of these services and consequently the government would receive more taxes.