SHC summons Customs Today, 92 Channel and others in Rs900 million defamation suit  

KARACHI: In a petition filed by DP World Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT), the Sindh High Court has summoned a number of defendants including Customs Today, Lucky Traders, Global Logistics Company, 92 Channel, Asad Kharal, Shahid Mehmud and others on December 06, 2018.

The petitioner instituted a suit against the defendants claiming damages of Rs900 million. It may be mentioned here All Pakistan Shipping Association (APSA), the representative body of shipping fraternity, have filed defamatory suits 92/2018, 93/2018 and 95/2018 before the District and Session Court Karachi under Defamation Ordinance 2002 and the court has pleased to restrain Customs today from making or circulating any defamatory statements in written or spoken, directly or indirectly and a Criminal Complaint under section 499/500 Pakistan Penal Code is being lodged against website and its agents and management.

According to APSA its members handle the entire seaborne trade of Pakistan amounting to almost 70 billion rupees each year and contribute several hundred million dollars to the national exchequer each year. APSA has expressed its grave concern at the heinous and libelous campaign which is relentlessly being disseminated by an unregistered, tabloid website “Customs today” for the last two months against its member shipping lines, terminal operators and their respective principals, directors and employees of alleged blackmailing and breach of trust and provisions of Pakistan Custom Act.

Sources said a particular cartel of toy importers was involved in revenue evasion through black mailing tactics. The modus operandi is such that they intimidate through telephone calls through their so-called news analyst and then send their Agent namely Mr. Imran who introduces himself as a representative of said freight forwarder & Customs today. He then intimidates the staff of the carrier/operator through threats of publication of the news story if the waiver of charges is not granted. If the staff of the carrier/terminal operator rejects the demands, next day they start a malicious campaign on the website.

Using the same modus operandi, this gang pressurized the customs officials and unlawfully obtained Delay-Detention Certificates against various shipments that were held by Pakistan Customs on account of mis-declaration. Petitions filed at Sindh High Court by these importers were disposed after payment of applicable duties/taxes. Those importers got their containers released but it is pertinent to mentioned here that despite mis-declarations in an item to evade government revenue, they managed to get Delay Detention Certificate for shipments from customs.

Thereafter, these importers in connivance with Freight Forwarder Global Logistics Co., started harassing and pressurizing the carriers and terminal operators through the so-called tabloid news portal and got their containers released through Custom Release Order to Terminal operator in terms of Rule 442 of Pakistan Customs Rules. However, later the custom competent authorities vide letter dated 11-Sep-2018 informed our members that pending investigation, all these DDCs may be treated as withdrawn ab initio.

Sources said a member FBR and a senior most officers of Customs Appraisement South were patronizing this cartel.

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