In a setback for Bangladesh’s “pro-Pakistan” leader Kamal Hossain, the country’s Supreme Court has declined to hear his writ petition challenging allegations of undisclosed income and massive tax evasion against him, following the National Board of Revenue (NBR) investigations.
Hossain is the President of the Gana Forum, which contested the last Parliament polls as an ally of Jamaat-e-Islam, and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
The NBR claimed Hossain’s law firm in 2018-19 showed its annual income as BDT 10 million against which it paid BDT 7.6 million as tax. In December 2019, the Deputy Tax Commissioner asserted the firm had actually earned BDT 200 million and should pay BDT 60 million as tax and interest as Hossain barely discloses five percent of his actual annual earnings in his tax returns.
On December 30, 2019, Hossain appealed to the Joint Commissioner concerned against the order of the Deputy Commissioner, but it was dismissed.
He then appealed to the Taxes Appeal Tribunal against the Joint Commissioner’s order and then to the High Court division as it was rejected.
After hearing the writ, a two-member high court bench dropped it.
If someone wants to file an appeal, the law requires the person to pay 10 per cent of the difference between his tax returns and the DCT’s assessment of income tax. Hossain did not comply with that requirement, which is why his appeal was rejected, said Assistant Attorney General Tahmina Poly.
Being not satisfied with the reason the writ petitioner had made, the high court bench stated that it had no jurisdiction over cases of this kind, Poly added.
The court was not convinced at all as the requirement of filing the income tax, as stated by law, was not fulfilled. The hearing took place for two days and it was a kind of motion hearing, which roughly means a hearing on the acceptability of something, she said.
It is claimed that the huge undisclosed amount sitting in Hossain’s firm accounts may reveal dark secrets — huge funds flowing to his accounts after he agreed to be the face of the Islamist opposition during the polls.
It remains to be investigated if some of this undisclosed income has flown from foreign sources, with his British son-in-law David Bergman on overdrive to project him as Sheikh Hasina’s alternative with apparent backing from fundamentalist outfit Jamaat-e-Islam and its key ally BNP.
Hossain’s political career is marked by a 360 degree volte face — from the Foreign Minister under Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, he now runs his outfit which worked out in 2018 the opposition platform, Jatiyo Oikyo Front, in which both BNP and the Jamaat were included.
Then, he was accused of betraying the secular values of 1971 Liberation War and kowtowing to the Islamist parties to fulfil his lust for power.