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Chief Justice revises Magistrate’s Court decision in income tax case

Fadley Faisal

The High Court on May 16 replaced a Magistrate’s Court order in an income tax case on finding the lower court’s decision “unsustainable”.

Chief Justice Dato Seri Paduka Steven Chong revised the decision on account of the public prosecutor’s application in its case against Bebatik Aquaculture Sdn Bhd.

The company, having pleaded guilty in the Magistrate’s Court on April 9 to charges of failing to furnish income tax returns from 2017 to 2020, was ordered to settle a fine of BND4,000 within six months.

The Magistrate’s Court also ordered for the public prosecutor to pursue a civil suit against the company to realise the fine, should they fail to settle it.

The Chief Justice quashed the original order and substituted it with an order, in default of payment of the fine, a warrant for the levy of the amount by distress and sale of any property belonging to the company without the prosecution having to make any application.

The decision was made after the Chief Justice found the lower court’s decision to be wrong.

“There is simply no legal basis for the public prosecutor to sue the defendant for non-payment of the fine,” the Chief Justice said.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Pengiran Hajah Nor ‘Azmeena binti Pengiran Haji Mohiddin represented the public prosecutor in the application, while the company was represented by its director.