KARACHI: As many as 281 constitution petition challenging Directorate of With Holding Tax notification making a certificate of exemption mandatory for trusts, funds etc were dismissed here Wednesday through a common order by a division bench of High Court of Sindh.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro earlier reserved the judgment, which was announced here this morning.

The petitions were filed by UBL Stock Advantage, UBL Retirement Savings, Al-Ameen Islamic Retirement, ABL Stock Fund, MCB Pak Stock, Meezan Tahaffuz Pension, Meezan Balanced Fund, Pakistan Sarmaya Mehfooz, Pak Capital Fund, Pak Cash Management, Pak Income Enhancement, Unit Trust Pakistan, Abamaco Ltd Employees Provident Fund Plus, Nafa Saving Plus, ABL Government Securities Fund, JS Pension Savings, Faysal Balanced Fund and dozens of other financial institutions, trusts and private limited companies entrusted with funds of employees.

The petitioners maintained that under different laws, regulations and SROs issued by the Federal Board of Revenue from time to time the money in the trust fund, benevolent fund etc is exempted for WHT but the Directorate of WHT through a notification has made a “certificate of exemption mandatory” if any exemption is sought by the petitioners and like institutions.

They prayed to court to declare the demands/deductions by WHT officials as illegal and declare the notification regarding exemption certificate as “in excess of jurisdiction”.

The counsel for FBR, Directorate of WHT and Deputy Attorney General for Pakistan who appeared on notice submitted that any person, individual, trust fund or limited company is bound to obtain a certificate of exemption if they claim any exemption. Unless they obtain a certificate, deduction of WHT would follow as per laws, they submitted.

The bench after extensive hearing and detailed arguments by leading lawyers of the city reserved the judgment. The bench passing a common order dismissed all the petitions and vacated the stay order.

The bench however suspended its order for fifteen days allowing time to petitioners to prefer a leave to appeal before the Supreme Court of Pakistan if they so decides.