Attorney Client Privilege

Attorney Client Privilege Case Laws Criminal Law Knowledge - Criminal Law Lahore High Court Legal Profession Litigation & Arbitration Sales Tax Solutions - Criminal Law Tax Mr. Justice Shujaat Ali Khan in his judgment has decided the issue of attorney client privilege in Intra Court Appeal No. 119 of 2014.

1. The appellant has assailed judgment dated 16.01.2014, passed by the learned Single Judge, whereby Writ Petition No.16001 of 2013, filed by the respondent, was allowed.

2. The facts of the instant appeal are that during a drive against fraudulent tax adjustments availed by different registered persons, the staff of the Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation, Inland Revenue, Lahore unveiled that M/s Pearl Enterprises, Lahore (hereinafter to be referred as “the Registered Person”) was involved in illegal tax refund. As a result, a notice was issued to the Registered Person for showing cause as to why its registration may not be suspended. In response to the Show Cause Notice, the Registered Person submitted its reply through the respondent before the Commissioner, Inland Revenue, Lahore. On 01.06.2013, the Assistant Director, Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation, Inland Revenue, Lahore/Investigating Officer (hereinafter to be referred as the Investigating Officer) issued letter to the respondent with the averment to furnish duly executed power of attorney/authorization to represent the Registered Person before the Commissioner, Inland Revenue. The respondent replied to the said letter contending that as he was only engaged to represent the Registered Person before the Commissioner, Inland Revenue, therefore, he could not plead its case before the Investigating Officer. As a replication to the reply submitted by the respondent, the Investigating Officer addressed another letter, dated 07.06.2013, to the respondent with the request to share the particulars of the person (hereinafter to be referred as the Client) who engaged him to defend the Registered Person before the Commissioner, Inland Revenue, Lahore. As the respondent did not respond to communication, dated 07.06.2013, summons were issued to him in terms of Section 37 of the Sales Tax Act 1990 (“Act”) requiring him to appear before the Investigating Officer in connection with case FIR No.03/2013, dated 16.05.2013. The respondent assailed the vires of the summons before this court through aforementioned Constitutional Petition which came up for final hearing on 04.12.2013 when the same was accepted by the Learned Single Judge, hence this appeal.

3. Learned counsel for the appellant submits that the learned Single Judge did not appreciate that proceedings against the Registered Person could not be finalized for the reason that exact antecedents of the owner of the Registered Person were not traceable and the appellant could only reach the Client through the courtesy of the respondent; that the Writ Petition filed by the respondent was accepted by the learned Single Judge mainly on the ground that the Registered Person was owned by one Munir Ahmad but during the course of investigation it surfaced to the scene that said Munir Ahmad belongs to District Bahawalnagar and is a Tailor by profession; that as the respondent filed reply to the Show Cause Notice, issued in the name of the Registered Person, before the Commissioner, Inland Revenue, Lahore he was well aware about the bio-data of the Client who engaged him as counsel; that the jurisdiction of the Investigating Officer to issue summons in the name of any person under Section 37(ii) of the Act for the purpose to furnish evidence or to produce documents, has not been considered by the learned Single Judge; that under Article 9 (2) of the Qanun-e-Shahadat Order, 1984 (“Order”) the respondent, being professional lawyer, is bound to disclose about the identity of the Client who hired his legal services to represent the Registered Person before the Commissioner, Inland Revenue, Lahore; that the learned Single Judge has not taken into consideration the fact that notice under Section 37 of the Act was issued to the respondent just requiring him to disclose identity of the Client who was acting on behalf of the Registered Person; that the learned Single Judge has mainly based her findings on Article 9 of the Order but no independent findings have been given qua the fate of summons issued in the name of the respondent under Section 37 of the Act; that the respondent, being responsible citizen, is bound to facilitate the investigation of the case being conducted in a scam of billions of rupees; that the learned Single Judge has accepted the writ petition mainly for the reason that the communication between the respondent and the Client being privileged one the respondent was not bound to disclose him before the Investigating Officer but as a matter of fact, the respondent was not being asked about any communication undertaken by him with his Client rather he was only being asked to unveil the identity of his Client; that the case-law relied upon by learned Single Judge, while accepting the writ petition, being quite distinguishable was not applicable in the facts and circumstances of the present case and that in case the respondent does not facilitate the department to unearth the Client/person, who played havoc with the National Exchequer, perhaps the department would not be able to hold investigation of the case in an efficient manner.

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