SHC order release of consignments detained allegedly for being? “Made in India”

KARACHI: An appellate bench of High Court of Sindh comprising Justice Muneeb Akhtar and Justice Muhammad Humayun Khan on Wednesday ordered release of consignments of cloth detained by the Custom authorities of Port Muhammad Bin Qasim on allegation of being Indian origin.

The bench on a previous hearing asked the Collector Customs to satisfy the court about the reason for holding consignments of fabric on ground that it was of Indian origin.

Today when the hearing resumed in the petition, the counsel for Customs submitted that as per guideline based on latest market information valuation has been done and petitioners/importers are liable to pay the same for the release of their consignments.

Ghulam Hyder Sheikh advocate of Franklin Law Associates representing the petitioners submitted that the original certificates of origin have been submitted to the custom authorities who have conducted the verification. He contended that during re-examination it was established that the cloth imported is of China origin. It was also contended that under the garb of guideline, double custom duty and taxes are being recovered from the importers. This practice would render the Valuation Ruling and Section 25-A of the Customs Act 1969 as a rudiment, submitted Ghulam Hyder Sheikh.

The bench inquired from the respondents/custom officials that if they have any proof or material to establish that the consignments are of Indian origin and not China as claimed by the petitioners.

As the custom authorities failed to come up with any evidence to establish that the cloth is “Indian Made”, the bench while ordering release of the consignments directed the petitioners to deposit differential amount between the declared value and value as per Valuation Ruling holding the field  to the satisfaction of the nazir of the court. The  bench  putting of further hearing  also asked the custom officials to reassess the value and decide the controversy in a reasonable time.

The constitution petition was filed by Horizon Enterprises and five other importers who imported fabric of China origin from Dubai. The Custom officials during course of initial arguments submitted a list of manufacturers taken from a website and stated that no manufacturer exists in China of the held goods/consignments. The bench asked that how the information from a foreign website could be treated as authentic. According to petitioners the “Certificates of origin” from manufacturer (China) as well as supplier from UAE has been have been submitted to the custom authorities but the consignments were held on the order of the Chief Collector Customs. The counsel prayed to the court to declare the action by the Collector as illegal and to order release of the consignments.

Faisal Ghani, Chief Legal & Corporate Advisor of Franklin Law Associates talking to Custom News said that the controversy and series of litigation arising out of valuation guide lines will be settled after today’s order as court rejected the determination of value on higher side on the strength of “Valuation Guide Line”.

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