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Secret property auctions by state are unconstitutional, rules LHC

Petitioner says tax fraud happens in secret auctions

SAMAA | - Posted: May 25, 2021 | Last Updated: 4 months ago
Posted: May 25, 2021 | Last Updated: 4 months ago

Photo: File

Lahore High Court ruled Tuesday that secret property auctions by the state are unconstitutional, and the government needs to legislate on it.

The court was hearing a petition by Adnan Paracha against the auction of state gifts. He wanted to be part of the bidding process, but was not allowed as it was not a public auction. The petition says that the ToshaKhana gifts are public property. The Toshakhana is an official treasury where gifts from foreign dignitaries or heads of state are deposited.

Paracha said that in secret auctions tax fraud happens, because withholding tax is not charged.

Justice Qasim Khan asked the deputy attorney general whether PPRA (Public Procurement Regulatory Authority) rules apply to secret auctions. The deputy said that these gifts are exchanged between dignitaries of two states, to which the judge replied that the gifts are exchanged between states. “Would they get the gifts if they were not state dignitaries,” Justice Khan asked.

It is a matter of concern for us that gifts worth millions are auctioned off for peanuts, he said. The state can establish a museum of these gifts, and the public should be allowed to bid in the auctions, Justice Khan added.

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