KARACHI: In a recent development, the Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued an order restraining cantonment boards from taking coercive actions against residents in property and conservancy tax disputes related to the enhanced annual rental value (ARV).
Approximately 30 identical petitions were heard by a two-judge bench led by Justice Mohammad Junaid Ghaffar.
During the proceedings, lawyers representing the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) and Cantonment Board Faisal (CBF) filed power of attorney documents.
The bench directed the lawyers for the respective cantonments to submit comments on several petitions and provide advance copies to the petitioners’ lawyers.
It was noted that previous interim orders from the bench had prohibited coercive actions against the petitioners.
The court referenced an order from another bench of the SHC dated June 1, which provided directions to the petitioners to secure at least 25% of the disputed amount.
As a result, the interim orders in these petitions were modified, and the SHC issued the following directives:
- No coercive action shall be taken against petitioners for the recovery of arrears of property tax, conservancy, and water charges based on the enhanced ARV up to the year 2022-23, subject to payment of all such dues on the old/previous ARV for the same period.
- Fresh challans for payment of charges for the year 2023-24, based on the old/previous ARV along with 25% of the amount increased in the enhanced ARV, shall be issued by the respective cantonment boards.
The SHC adjourned the hearing until October 18, and the mentioned arrangement regarding payment is subject to the outcome of these petitions.
It is relevant to note that the dispute over an increase in property tax has prompted hundreds of residents, particularly from DHA and Clifton, to file approximately 30 identical petitions in the SHC since last year.
They have challenged a letter issued on August 23, 2022, which imposed what they considered an exorbitant and arbitrarily assessed tax under the guise of house tax.