SHC bars transferring contractor money to NAB

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday restrained Karachi Port Trust (KPT) from transferring foreign contractor’s frozen amount of over Rs 60 million to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) investing the fraudulently evasion of stamp duty worth Rs 30.07 million by the firm.

A division bench headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar gave this interim order on a petition filed by China International Water & Electric Company (CWE) challenging a letter of NAB authorities issued to KPT for freezing outstanding amount of contractor.

The bench issued notice to secretary interior ministry, ports and shipping, chairman NAB and KPT authorities to submit their respective comments on a petition by July 18.

Firm’s counsel submitted that CWE was awarded a dredging contract by KPT for construction of Pakistan Deep Water Container Port. He said the contractor was exempted from actual stamp duty and was asked to pay reduced stamp duty worth Rs 8.5 million by chief inspector stamps, Board of Revenue (BOR), as according to Stamp Act 1899, no duty is paid in respect of any contract executed with or in favour of government and in all such cases government has to pay the duty.

Counsel said that almost two years after signing of contract, NAB authorities initiated an inquiry against the firm for allegedly fraudulently paying reduced stamp duty of Rs 8.5 million instead of actual Rs 30.07 million, which caused loss to national exchequer. Subsequently, he said that NAB has directed KPT to freeze the outstanding amount of petitioner on May 2014.

He said that the act of NAB authorities was illegal as civil suit involving the matter was pending disposal and an interim order was in the field in favour of petitioner. Despite that NAB took action against petitioner asking KPT to withhold its outstanding amount.

He requested the court to declare the act of NAB authorities illegal and direct KPT to make payment of its outstanding amount.

After initial hearing the bench ruled, “KPT shall not transmit the frozen amount to BOR or NAB authorities and retain the same till next date of hearing.”

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