KARACHI: An appellate bench of High Court of Sindh (SHC) comprising Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed on Wednesday held a detailed hearing in more than four dozen Constitution petitions and Special Custom Reference Applications (SCRA’s) filed by importers of ceramic tiles, baby diapers and soaps.
The petitions were filed by Director General, Directorate of Valuation, Pakistan Customs through counsel Masooda Siraj. Principal Appraiser, Law Ilyas Ahsan also appeared for the department along with Additional Director, valuation, Syed Imran Bokhari. Masooda Siraj assisted by Sardar Zafar Hussain advocate argued the case for almost two and a half hours. She contended that Director Valuation issued a Valuation Ruling (VR) 874 0f 2016 on 22-6-2016. The VR was issued after meeting all formalities and applying method under section 25 of the Customs Act 1969. All the stake holders including the importers as well as local manufacturers accepted the same but later they filed “Revisions”.
There are genuine petitioners/applicants besides “frivolous” who want to agitate the non issues as a petition to delay the payment of government duties, tax and other leviable, she maintained.
To a question by the court she said that local manufacturers approached the Directorate for enhancement of value of the imported tiles while the importers craved for lowering the value.
To another question by the court she said that local manufacturers maintains that impugned VR was issued without market survey, sequential method was also not followed and hence the VR was not acceptable to them.
To another question by the bench as to the powers of the Director General in respect of Order in Revision, she said that while dealing with a revision petition, DG has unlimited powers. It is a specialized forum with highest authority vested in the hierarchy. The bench then referred to the Rule 194 of the Custom Rules and observed that powers of a Board or Collectors are limited to an extent.
Principal Appraiser law Ilyas Ahsan at this stage explained the process and procedure in issuance of Valuation Rulings. He bowed to an observation by the bench that Special Customs Appellate tribunal has not focused on different sub sections to the Section 25.
Additional Collector also addressed the court after seeking permission. He answered different queries made by the bench regarding powers of the DG.
The bench later deferring further hearing till March 03 appreciated the assistance on law by the counsel for petitioner as well as custom officers appearing in the case. The bench also allowed provisional release of the consignments of identical nature and petitions involving identical issues of law and facts.
The bench also ordered the office to fix all the identical constitutional petitions as well as SCRAs on same date for a hearing and decision.