Lawmakers concerned about SC’s Ncell verdict

Kathmandu, August 30

Lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties in the parliamentary Law, Justice and Human Right Committee today raised concerns about the Supreme Court’s verdict on tax issue of private telecom company, Ncell.

The Supreme Court on August 26 issued a ruling in a case filed by the private telecom against Large Taxpayers’ Office for imposing Rs 62.63 billion as applicable capital gains tax on Ncell for its buyout deal.

“There has been some scepticism on the SC’s verdict on Ncell. Can we discuss it or not?”asked Sanjay Kumar Gautam, lawmaker of the main opposition party Nepali Congress. He also demanded to know as to who was responsible to fix the tax rate to Ncell, whether the SC or the related tax office. “This is a serious issue. Our committee is for drafting a law. I am not sure whether this discussion is under the committee’s jurisdiction or not?” Gautam said.

Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Chief Whip Dev Gurung said the committee should not discuss anything without going through the full verdict of the SC. He told the committee that he had a different reading of the SC verdict on Ncell. Ncell should pay around Rs 61 billion to the government but the company was not getting waiver of around Rs 40 billion, according to Gurung.

The SC also quashed LTO’s decision to impose fine on Ncell as per section 120 (a) of Income Tax Act 2002, which allowed the LTO to impose fine equal to 50 per cent of the amount that the concerned company failed to mention in its document. Lawmaker representing Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal, Laxman Lal Karna demanded to know whether lawmakers had authority to criticise wrong verdict of SC or not. Karna said that the committee and lawmakers couldn’t direct the SC on its verdict. However, they could discuss weather the SC ruling was in favour of people or not. There will be no harm to discuss,” he said.

Regarding deliberation on the SC verdict, chair of the panel Krishna Bhakta Pokharel said, “This is a justice committee. So, this committee can discuss on national agendas,” Pokharel said. Expert on constitutional law Bhimarjun Acharya said members of parliament could not discuss verdict of the apex court. “If the lawmakers are not happy with the court’s decision, there are two options. First, the Judiciary Council can investigate on the issue, secondly, if lawmakers think decision is wrong they should go for impeachment of concerned justice, and then they can investigate the issue,” Acharya said.