The Honorable supreme court of Pakistan took the decision on Wednesday to reinstate all the taxes on mobile phone cards and top-ups. The decision came at a time when the federal government is facing a huge balance of payment crisis and is reeling under the burden of fiscal and current account deficit. It is beyond any doubt that the extra revenues collected would help the authorities mitigate the revenue shortfall; However, it will draw ire of the populace who already feel overburdened with huge taxes both direct and indirect.
The suo motu taken by the then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar, to withdraw taxes on mobile recharge, was in the pretext of article 184(3), which allows Supreme Court to interfere in any matter of public importance with reference to the enforcement of basic human rights. While there seems to be no basic right involved directly, the decision raised eyebrows in the legal fraternity. It was argued by the legal experts that the judiciary has interfered in the matters of the executive as revenue matters do not fall under the ambit of the judiciary.
The concept of separation of powers is one of the core principles of democracy. A functioning democracy makes sure that all the pillars of the state work in tandem without interfering into each other’s domain. Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, while giving the verdict, said that he will not interfere into the matters of revenue as it is the job of the executive to decide.
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This decision will help in restoring the balance between the two organs of the state (executive, judiciary) and create an environment where both work together for the betterment of the people of Pakistan, instead of creating hurdle by interfering in each other domains.