FBR Given Right to Arrest Persons on Concealment Above Rs25 Million

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has been empowered to arrest a person for concealing above Rs25 million under code of criminal procedure.

Through Finance Act, 2021 a new section 203B has been inserted to Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, which stated as follow:

203B. Power to arrest and prosecute:

  1. Where on the basis of material evidence brought on record, as a result of audit conducted by the auditors in terms of sub-section (8) of section 177 read with section 214C of this Ordinance, an assessment is made or amended under section 121 or 122 of this Ordinance, as the case may be, and the assessing officer records a finding that the taxpayer has committed the offence of concealment of income which has resulted in non-payment of tax of Rupees one hundred million and above in case of a filer and rupees twenty five million or above in case of non-filer, the taxpayer may be arrested after obtaining written approval of the committee specified under sub-section (2).
  2. The committee under sub-section (1) shall comprise the Minister for Finance and Revenue, the Chairman of the Board and the senior most member of the Board.
  3. All arrests made under this Ordinance shall be carried out in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898).
  4. Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-sections (1) and (2) or any other provision of this Ordinance, where any person has committed offence of concealment of income or any offence warranting prosecution under this Ordinance, the Chief Commissioner with the prior approval of the Board may, either before or after the institution of any proceedings for recovery of tax, compound the offence if such person pays the amount of tax due along with such default surcharge and penalty as is determined under the provisions of this Ordinance.
  5. Where the person suspected of offence of concealment of income or any offence warranting prosecution under this Ordinance is a company, every director or officer of that company whom the authorised officer has reason to believe is personally responsible for actions of the company contributing to offence of concealment of income or any offence warranting prosecution under this Ordinance shall be liable to arrest:

Provided that any arrest under this sub-section shall not absolve the company from the liabilities of payment of tax, default surcharge and penalty imposed under this Ordinance.

Through the Finance Act, 2021 another Section 203C has been inserted to the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 under which procedure has been laid down to follow on arrest of a person.

Following is the text of Section 203C:

203C. Procedure to be followed on arrest of a person.– 

  1. When an officer of Inland Revenue authorized under sub-section (1) of section 203B in this behalf arrests a person under section 203B, he shall immediately intimate the fact of the arrest of that person to the Special Judge who may direct such officer to produce that person at such time  and place and on such date as the Special Judge considers expedient and such Officer shall act accordingly.
  2. Notwithstanding anything contained in the sub-section (1), any person arrested under this Ordinance shall be produced before the Special Judge or, if there is no Special Judge within a reasonable distance, to the nearest Judicial Magistrate, within twenty-four hours of such arrest, excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the Court of the Special Judge or, as the case may be, of such Magistrate.
  3. When any person is produced under sub-section (2) before the Special Judge, he may, on the request of such person, after perusing the record, if any and after giving the prosecution an opportunity of being heard, admit him to bail on his executing a bond, with or without sureties, or refuse to admit him to bail and direct his detention at such place as he deems fit: Provided that nothing herein contained shall preclude the Special Judge from cancelling the bail of any such person at a subsequent stage if, for any reason, he considers such cancellation necessary, but before passing such order he shall afford such person an opportunity of being heard, unless for reasons to be recorded he considers that the affording of such opportunity shall defeat the purposes of this Ordinance.
  4. When such person is produced under sub-section (2) before a Judicial Magistrate, such Magistrate may, after authorising his detention in such custody at such place and for such period as he considers necessary or proper for facilitating his earliest production before the Special Judge, direct his production before the Special Judge on a date and time to be fixed by him or direct such person to be forthwith taken to, and produced before, the Special Judge and he shall be so taken.
  5. Nothing in sub-section (3) or sub-section (4) shall preclude the Special Judge or the Judicial Magistrate from remanding any such person to the custody of an officer of Inland Revenue holding inquiry against that person if such officer makes a request in writing to that effect, and the Special Judge or the Judicial Magistrate, after perusing the record, if any, and hearing such person, is of the opinion that for the completion of inquiry or investigation it is necessary to make such order:

Provided that the period of such custody shall not exceed more than fourteen days.

6. When any person is arrested under this Ordinance, an officer of Inland Revenue shall record the fact of arrest and other relevant particulars in the register specified in sub-section (10) and shall immediately proceed to inquire into the charge against such person and if he completes the inquiry within twenty four hours of his arrest, excluding the time necessary for journey as aforesaid, he may, after producing such person before the Special Judge or the nearest Judicial Magistrate, make a request for his further detention in his custody.

7. While holding an inquiry under sub-section (6), an officer of Inland Revenue shall exercise the same powers as are exercisable by an officer in charge of a police station under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898), but such officer shall exercise such powers subject to the foregoing provisions of this section while holding an inquiry under this Ordinance.

8. If an officer of Inland Revenue, after holding an inquiry as aforesaid, is of the opinion that there is no sufficient evidence or reasonable ground for suspicion against such person, he shall release him on his executing a bond, with or without sureties, and shall direct such person to appear, as and when required, before the Special Judge, and make a report to the Special Judge for the discharge of such person and shall make a full report of the case to his immediate superior.

9. The Special Judge to whom a report has been made under sub-section, (8) may, after the perusal of record of the inquiry, and hearing the prosecution, agree with such report and discharge the accused or, if he is of the opinion that there is sufficient ground for proceedings against such person, proceed with his trial and direct the prosecution to produce evidence.

10. An officer of Inland Revenue empowered to hold inquiry under this section shall maintain a register to be called “Register of Arrests and Detentions” in the prescribed form in which he shall enter the name and other particulars of every person arrested under this Ordinance, together with the time and date of arrest, the details of the information received, the details of things, goods or documents, recovered from his custodythe name of the witnesses and the explanation, if any, given by him and the manner in which the inquiry has been conducted from day to day and, such register or authenticated copies of its aforesaid entries shall be produced before the Special Judge, whenever such Officer is so directed by him.

11. After completing the inquiry, an officer of Inland Revenue shall, as early as possible, submit to Special Judge a complaint in the same form and manner in which the officer in-charge of a police station submits a report, before a court.

12. Magistrate of the first class may record any statement or confession during inquiry under this Ordinance, in accordance with the provisions of section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898).

13. Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions of this section, Board, with the approval of the Federal Minister-in-charge, may, by notification in the official Gazette, authorize any other officer working under the Board to exercise the powers and perform the functions of an officer of Inland Revenue under this section, subject to such conditions, if any, that it may deem fit to impose.

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