NO inferior court has jurisdiction to stay a ruling by the Supreme Court, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) has argued.
This is in a matter in which The Post Newspaper purports to have obtained a stay against ZRA which has taken possession of property belonging to The Post over a debt of more than K53 million.
In its ruling last month, the Supreme Court stated that, “…in issuing stay, the learned trial Judge disregarded Section 77 (4) of the Income Tax Act, which requires that tax be paid on the date due.”
The Supreme Court judgment further stated that Section 106 of the Income Tax Act, CAP 323 of the Law of Zambia, provides that every assessment under the Act stands good unless proved otherwise by the person assessed upon objection or appeal.
ZRA stated that this was in line with the principle in taxation of “pay now, talk later.”
Meanwhile, yesterday the ZRA legal team represented by Kantumoya Katongo, Chitupila Muleba and Mr Mwamba in their response to preliminary issues raised by The Post have indicated that the tribunal had gone outside its jurisdiction to grant an order to stay the takeover of properties including office premises, equipment and The Post newspaper printing plant in a quest to recover the sums of money owned in unpaid tax.
They argued that the registrar of the Tax Appeals Tribunal was outside her legal boundaries when she issued an order to stay a Supreme Court Judgment.
“It is our submission that the appellant is bound by this tribunal and cannot go outside the parameters set by it, and there are many Supreme Court proceedings which have dealt with this matter.
“From what we have indicated, our view in response to the application is that what the registrar has been asked are not at law. As indicated the powers of the registrar are very limited,” Mr Mwamba said.
Mr Mwamba said the powers of the registrar were limited and were unobtainable by law, adding that “in a nutshell, the registrar has no legal backing and the registrar has no jurisdiction”.
They charged the tribunal had no jurisdiction to order a stay of a Supreme Court Judgment on which ZRA had based their execution of the warrant of distress, that “on the basis of procedure, the tribunal had no enforcement powers”.
Mr Katongo said the ex-parte order issued had conditionalities which have not been satisfied by the newspaper company including handing over trucks, trailers and equipment to the tune of the money owed, over K53 million.
They explained that the preliminary issue raised on whether the registrar’s intention to summon the acting Commissioner had no legal backing and was, therefore, unattainable at law.
ZRA indicated in its submissions that the tribunal was bound by itself, and could not go outside its own parameters set by itself in the matter at hand.
“Moving on the preliminary issue as we see, it is seeking to enforce the order issued by this tribunal.
It is our submission that this hounorable tribunal has no powers conferred by it either by the Tax Appeals Act 1 of 2015 or Revenue Tax Act 13 of 1998.
“It is on the basis of procedure that this tribunal has no enforcement powers,” ZRA said.
The revenue authority has since requested the tribunal to dismiss the preliminary issues raised, as well as revoke the order to restrain them from taking action against a defaulter, and instead proceed to hear their application inter-party.
Post Newspaper lawyer Nchima Nchito in the company of Chisuwo Hamweela argued that the tribunal was a creation of law, and so should be respected in its actions.
They argued that the registrar had powers to hear any matter with an interlocutory application subject to any rules.
“It is the law that has established this tribunal and it is pursuant to the same law that the appellant has appeared before this court.
“And that for the appellant to be rendered helpless with a court order in hand is both undesirable and a cause for anarchy,” he said.