In a Writ Application (SC/Writs/02/2015) field in the Supreme Court yesterday, by the Public Interest litigator Nagananda Kodituwakku petitioned to the Supreme Court that the ‘Tax-Free Permit Scheme’ introduced in good faith to grant tax-free permits to import vehicles free from fiscal levies, enabling MPs and the Cabinet of Ministers to use the vehicles to effectively discharge their office, has since been abused by them, exploiting the permits for unjust enrichment by selling the permits in the open market and defeating the very objective of issuance of such permits in the public interest.
In the Petition filed in Court lawyer states that according to the said Schedule ‘A’ of the Customs Law (see the document 1 below), statutory levy on over 2500cc Diesel Motor vehicles classified under the HS Code 87033359 is 300% of the CIF value, whereas the statutory levy on a very small motor car of less than 1000cc, classified under HS Code 87032169 is 135% of the CIF value.
Producing Customs declarations to support his case, Lawyer Kodituwakku demonstrates how this system is abuse for unjust enrichment by the MPs and Ministers whilst exploiting poor taxpayers. Producing evidence (Cusdec No 4797 of 09th Feb 2015) (see the document 3 below) the lawyer demonstrates how for a small car (used 650cc Suzuki Alto Petrol car) Customs charge a levy of Rs 1,485,039.00, whilst luxury vehicles imported under permits are granted tax waivers. For instance Cusdec No 21781 dated 12th May 2015 (see the doc 2 below) produced to customs for the clearance of a Mitsubishi Montero Jeep, of over 2500 cc, Customs waives a levy of Rs.8,188,846.00, a fair share of which is syphoned by the permit holder, by selling the permit in the car market, a patent improper act done purely for unjust enrichment, denying the rightful revenue to the government.
Lawyer Kodituwakku states that he made a formal complaint in this regard to the Corruption Commission urging it to investigate this blatant abuse that falls well within Section 70 of the Bribery Act (causing loss to the government and/or profiting from abusing office) on 11th December 2014 and despite the said plausible complaint was made, the Commission failed to initiate any investigation into it. Instead the Lawyer says that he was informed by the Corruption Commission in its communication dated 04th March 2015 as follows;
“…The Conditions in the tax-free permits were decided as policy of the government. Therefore any loss caused to the government due to the implementation of such government policy will not fall within the scope of Section 70 of the Bribery Act. Accordingly, please note that the Commission will not take further action on your complaint …”
Therefore, lawyer Nagananda Kodituwakku pursue for a Writ of Mandamus against the Corruption Commission, compelling it to initiate a formal investigation/inquiry into this blatant abuse of tax free permit scheme for improper purpose of unjust enrichment by MPs and the Cabinet of Ministers, causing tremendous loss of tax revenue to the government.
And in the Motion filed in Court he request the Chief Justice that his case be listed for support before a Bench, which does not include Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, PC, Justice Sisira J de Abrew, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena, PC, (arbitrarily appointed to the Supreme Court by President Rajapaksa) reporting that he has no trust and confidence in them.
Schedule ‘A’ of the Customs Law;