KARACHI: The government has given the powers of officers of Pakistan Customs to the officers of Maritime Security Agency (MSA) and Pakistan Coast Guards (PCG) to stop the movement of illegal goods into the country.
In two different SROs issued Wednesday the FBR announced to entrust functions of officers of customs under Section 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, sub-section (1), (3) and (4) of Section 168, Section 169 and 171 of Customs Act, 1969.
The powers have been given to the officer of MSA not below the rank of Fleet Petty Officer and in case of PCG the officer not below the rank of Junior Commissioned Officer. The powers have been given till June 30, 2014.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) shared the authorities considering the shortage of staff in Pakistan Customs to monitor the coastal line and some part of land area.
Sources told Customnews.pk that the Supreme Court of Pakistan in suo moto case regarding Karachi Law and Order and influx of illegal arms and ammunition and presence of drugs, directed the government authorities to enhance the monitoring all those places that were mentioned by Ramzan Bhatti Commission.
Following powers in the Customs Act will be exercised by the officers of MSA.
157. Extent of confiscation.– (1) Confiscation of any goods under this Act includes any package in which they are found, and all other contents thereof.
(2) Every conveyance of whatever kind used in the removal of any goods liable to confiscation under this Act shall also be liable to confiscation.
Provided that, where a conveyance liable to confiscation has been seized by an officer of customs, the appropriate officer may, in such circumstances as may be prescribed by rules, order its release, pending the adjudication of the case involving its confiscation if the owner of the conveyance furnishes him with a sufficient guarantee from a scheduled bank for the due production of the conveyance at any time and place it is required by the appropriate officer to be produced.
(3) Confiscation of any vessel under this Act includes her tackle, apparel and furniture.
158. Power to search on reasonable ground.– (1) The appropriate officer, if he has reason to believe that any person is carrying about himself goods liable to confiscation or any documents relating thereto, may search such person, if he has landed from or is on board or is about to board a vessel within the Pakistan customs-waters, or if he has alighted from, or is about to get into or is in any other conveyance arriving in or proceeding from Pakistan, or if he is entering or about to leave Pakistan, or if he is within the limit of an y customs-area.
(2) Without prejudice to the provisions of sub-section (1) the appropriate officer may search a person, if he has reason to believe that such person is carrying about himself smuggled Platinum, any radio active mineral, gold, silver or precious stones, manufactures of Platinum, any radioactive mineral, gold, silver or precious stones, or currency, or any other goods or class of goods notified by the Federal Government in the official Gazette, or any documents relating to any one or more of the aforementioned goods.
159. Persons to be searched may desire to be taken before gazetted officer of customs or Magistrate.– (1) When any officer of customs is about to search any person under the provisions of section 158, the officer of customs shall inform such person about his right to be taken to a gazetted officer of customs or Magistrate, and if such person so desires take him without unnecessary delay to the nearest gazetted officer of customs or Magistrate before searching him, and may detain him until he can be so taken.
(2) The gazetted officer of customs or the Magistrate before whom such person is brought shall, if he sees no reasonable ground for search, forthwith discharge the person and record reasons for doing so, or else direct search to be made.
(3) Before making a search under section 158, the officer of customs shall call upon two or more persons to attend and witness the search and may issue an order in writing to them or any of them so to do, and the search shall be made in the presence of such persons and a list of all things seized in the course of such search shall be prepared by such officer or other person and signed by such witnesses.
(4) A female shall not be searched except by a female.
160. Power to screen or X-Ray bodies of suspected persons for detecting secreted goods.– (1) Where the appropriate officer has reason to believe that any person liable to search under section 158 has any goods liable to confiscation secreted inside his body, he may detain such person and produce him without unnecessary delay before an officer of customs not below the rank of an Assistant Collector of Customs.
(2) The aforesaid officer, if he has reasonable grounds for believing that such person has any such goods secreted inside his body and that it is necessary to have the body of such person screened or X-Rayed, may make an order to that effect , or else discharge such person forthwith, except where he is held on any other grounds.
(3) Where the aforesaid officer orders such person to be screened or X-Rayed, the appropriate officer shall, as soon as practicable, take him to a radiologist possessing such qualifications as may be recognized by the Federal Government for that purpose and such person shall allow the radiologist to screen or X-Ray his body.
(4) The radiologist shall screen or X-Ray the body of such person and forward his report thereon, together with any X-Ray picture taken by him to the aforesaid officer without unnecessary delay.
(5) Where on the basis of a report from a radiologist or otherwise, the aforesaid officer is satisfied that any person has any goods liable to confiscation secreted inside his body, he may direct that suitable action for bringing such goods out of his body be taken on the advice and under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner and such person shall be bound to comply with such direction:
Provided that in the case of a female no such action shall be taken except on the advice and under the supervision of a female registered medical practitioner.
(6) Where any person is brought before an officer of customs not below the rank of an Assistant Collector of Customs as aforesaid, he may direct that pending completion of all action under this section such person be detained.
(7) No person shall be subjected to screening or X-Ray if he confesses that goods liable to confiscation are secreted inside his body and of his own consent agrees to suitable steps being taken to bring out such goods.
161. Power to arrest.– (1) Any officer of customs authorized in this behalf who has reason to believe that any person has committed an offence under this Act may arrest such person.
(2) Any person duly empowered for the prevention of smuggling who has reason to believe that any person who has committed an offence of smuggling under this Act may arrest such person.
(3) Every person arrested under this Act shall be taken forthwith before the nearest officer of customs authorized by the Collector of Customs to deal with such cases, or, if there is no such officer of customs within a reasonable distance, to the officer-in-charge of the nearest police-station.
(4) When any person arrested under this Act is taken before an officer of customs or the officer-in-charge of a police-station, as required by sub-section (3), or when such officer of customs or officer-in-charge of a police-station himself arrests any person under this Act, such officer or officer-in-charge shall, if the offence is bailable, admit him to bail to appear before the Special Judge having jurisdiction or, if the offence is non-bailable, have him taken in custody to the Special Judge or if there is no Special Judge within a reasonable distance, to the nearest Judicial Magistrate, within twenty-four hours of such arrest, excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the Court of the Special Judge or , as the case may be, of such Magistrate.
(5) When any person is taken under sub-section (4) before the Special Judge, he may, on the request of such person, after perusing the record, if any, and after giving the prosecution an opportunity of being heard, admit him to bail on his executing a bond, with or without sureties, or refuse to admit him to bail and direct his detention at such place as he deems fit:
Provided that nothing herein contained shall preclude the Special Judge from cancelling the bail of any such person at a subsequent stage if, for any reason, he considers such cancellation necessary, but before passing such order he shall afford such person an opportunity of being heard, unless for reasons to be recorded he considers that the affording of such opportunity shall defeat the purposes of this Act.
(6) When such person is taken under sub-section (4) before a Magistrate, such Magistrate may, after authorizing his detention in such custody, at such place and for such period as he considers necessary or proper for facilitating his earliest production before the Special Judge, direct his production before the Special Judge on a date and time to be fixed by such Magistrate, or direct such person to be forthwith taken to, and produced before, the Special Judge and he shall be so taken.
(7) Nothing in sub-section (5) or sub-section (6) shall preclude the Special Judge or the Magistrate from remanding any such person to the custody of the officer of customs, or the officer-in-charge of a police-station holding inquiry against that person if such officer makes a request in writing to that effect and the Special Judge or the Magistrate, after perusing the record, if any, and hearing such person, is of the opinion that for the completion of inquiry or investigation it is necessary to make such an order; provided that in no case the period of such custody shall exceed fourteen days.
(8) When any person arrested under this Act is brought before an officer of customs or the officer-in-charge of a police-station as required by sub-section(3), or when such officer of customs or officer-in-charge of a police-station himself arrests any person under this Act, such officer shall, if he is an officer of customs, record the fact of arrest and other relevant particulars in the register mentioned in sub-section (12) or, if he is an officer-in-charge of a police-station, record such fact in the register ordinarily maintained by him, and shall immediately proceed to inquire into the charge against such person and if he completes the inquiry within twenty-four hours of his arrest, excluding the time necessary for journey as aforesaid, he may, after producing such person before the Special Judge or the nearest Judicial Magistrate make a request for his further detention in his custody.
(9) While holding an inquiry under sub-section (8), the officer of customs shall exercise the same powers as are exercisable by an officer-in-charge of a police-station under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898), but such officer and the officer-in-charge of a police-station shall exercise such powers subject to the foregoing provisions of this section while holding an inquiry under this Act.
(10) If the officer of customs or the officer-in-charge of a police-station, as the case may be, after holding an inquiry as aforesaid, is of the opinion that there is no sufficient evidence or reasonable ground for suspicion against such person, he shall release him on his executing a bond, with or without sureties as the officer may direct, to appear, as and when required, before the Special Judge, may make a report to the Special Judge for the discharge of such person and shall make a full report of the case to his immediate superior.
(11) The Special Judge to whom a report has been made under sub-section (10) may, after the perusal of record of the inquiry and hearing the prosecution, agree with such report and discharge the accused or, if he is of the opinion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against such person, proceed with his trial and direct the prosecution to produce evidence.
(12) The officer of customs empowered to hold inquiry under this section shall maintain a register to be called â€•Register of Arrests and Detentionâ€– in the prescribed form in which he shall enter the name and other particulars of every person arrested under this Act, together with the time and date of arrest, the details of the information received, the details of things, goods or documents recovered from his custody, the name of the witnesses and the explanation, if any, given by him and the manner in which the inquiry has been conducted from day to day; and such register or authenticated copies of its aforesaid entries shall be produced before the Special Judge whenever such officer is so directed by him.
(13) After completing the inquiry, the officer of customs shall submit to the Special Judge a report in the form and manner, as early as possible, in which the officer-in-charge of a police-station submits a challan before a Court, or if such inquiry has been conducted by an officer-in-charge of a police-station, he shall submit a challan before the Special Judge.
(14) The officer of customs, or as the case may be, the officer-in-charge of a police-station shall immediately intimate the fact of the arrest of a person under sub-sections (1),(2) or (4) to the Special Judge who may direct such officer to produce that person at such time and place and on such date as the Special Judge considers expedient and such officer or officer-in-charge shall act accordingly.
(15) Any Magistrate of the first class may record any statement or confession during inquiry under this Act, in accordance with the provisions of section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1898 (Act V of 1898).
(16) Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions of this section, the Federal Government may, by notification in the official Gazette authorize any other officer also to exercise the power and perform the functions of an officer of customs or officer-in-charge of a police-station under this section, subject to such conditions, if any, that it may deem fit to impose.
162. Power to issue search warrant.– (1) Any Judicial Magistrate may, on application by a gazetted officer of customs stating the grounds of his belief that goods liable to confiscation or documents or things which in his opinion will be useful as evidence in any proceeding under this Act are secreted in any place within the local limits of the jurisdiction of such Magistrate, issue a warrant to search for such goods, documents or things.
(2) Such warrant shall be executed in the same way, and shall have the same effect, as a search-warrant issued under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898).
163. Power to search and arrest without warrant.– (1) Whenever any officer of customs not below the rank of an Assistant Collector of Customs or any other officer of like rank duly employed for the prevention of smuggling has reasonable grounds for believing that any goods liable to confiscation or any documents or things which in his opinion will be useful for or relevant to any proceeding under this Act are concealed or kept in any place and that there is a danger that they may be removed before a search can be effected under section 162, he may, after preparing a statement in writing of the grounds of his belief and of the goods, documents or things for which search is to be made, search or cause search to be made for such goods, documents or things in that place.
(2) An officer or person who makes a search or causes a search to be made under sub section (1) shall leave a signed copy of the aforementioned statement in or about the place searched and shall, at the time the search is made or as soon as is practicable thereafter, deliver furthermore a signed copy of such statement to the occupier of the place at his last known address.
(3) All searches made under this section shall be carried out mutatis mutandis in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (Act V of 1898).
(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing sub-sections and subject to previous authorization by an officer of customs not below the rank of an Assistant Collector of Customs, any officer of customs or any person duly empowered as such may, with respect to an offence related to exportation of such goods as the Federal Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, specify in this behalf-
(a) arrest without warrant any person concerned in such offence or against whom reasonable suspicion exists that he is about to be concerned in such offence;
(b) enter and search without warrant any premises to make an arrest under clause (a),or to seize any goods which are reasonably suspected to be intended for exportation contrary to any prohibition or restriction for the time being in force, and all documents or things which in his opinion will be useful for or relevant to any proceeding under this Act; and
(c) for the purpose of arresting, detaining or taking into custody or preventing the escape of any person concerned or likely to be concerned in such offence, or for the purpose of seizing or preventing the removal of any goods in respect of which any such offence has occurred or is likely to occur, use or cause to be used such force to the extent of causing death as may be necessary.
(5) The provisions of sub-section (4) shall apply only to the areas within five miles of the land frontier of Pakistan, and within a five miles belt running along the sea coast of Pakistan.
(6) No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall be instituted, except with the previous sanction in writing of the Federal Government, against any person in respect of anything done or purporting to be done in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) or sub-section(2) or, in the areas specified in sub-section (5), by sub-section (4).
164. Power to stop and search conveyances.– (1) Where the appropriate officer has reason to believe that within the territories of Pakistan(including territorial waters) any conveyance has been, is being or is about to be, used in the smuggling of any goods or in the carriage of any smuggled goods, he may at any time stop any such conveyance or, in the case of an aircraft, compel it to land, and –
(a) rummage and search any part of the conveyance;
(b) examine and search any goods thereon; and
(c) break open the lock of any door, fixture or package for making search.
(2) Where in the circumstances referred to in sub-section (1)-
(a) it becomes necessary to stop any vessel or compel any aircraft to land, it shall be lawful of any vessel or aircraft in the service of the Government while flying her proper flag or bearing flag marks and any authority authorized in this behalf by the Federal Government to summon such vessel to stop or the aircraft to land, by means of an international signal, code or other recognized means, and thereupon such vessel shall forthwith stop or such aircraft shall forthwith land, and if it fails to do so chase may be given thereto by any vessel or aircraft as aforesaid and if after a gun is fired as a signal, the vessel fails to stop or the aircraft fails to land, it may be fired upon;
(b) it becomes necessary to stop any conveyance other than a vessel or aircraft, the appropriate officer may use or cause to be used all lawful means for stopping it or preventing its escape including, if all other means fail, firing upon it.
165. Power to examine persons.– (1) The appropriate officer may, during the course of an inquiry in connection with the smuggling of any goods.-
(a) require any person to produce or deliver any document or thing to such officer;
(b) examine any person acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case.
(2) The appropriate officer shall exercise the powers in sub-section (1) only in relation to a person who is readily available or present before him and shall
be subject to the same provisions as an officer-in-charge of a police-station is subject to under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (V of 1898), when investigating a cognizable offence.
166. Power to summon persons to give evidence and produce documents or things. â€“ (1) Any gazetted officer of customs shall have power to summon any person whose attendance he considers necessary either to give evidence or to produce document or any other thing in any inquiry which such officer is making.
(2) A summon to produce documents or other things may be for the production of certain specified documents or things or for the production of all documents or things of a certain description in the possession or under the control of the person summoned.
(3) All persons so summoned shall be bound to attend either in person or by an authorized agent, as such officer may direct; and all persons so summoned shall be bound to state the truth upon any subject respecting which they are examined or make statement and produce such documents and other things as may be required;
Provided that the exemption under section 132 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (Act V of 1908), shall be applicable to any requisition for attendance under this section.
(4) Every such inquiry as aforesaid shall be deemed to be judicial proceeding within the meaning of section 193 and section 228 of the Pakistan Penal Code, (Act XLV of 1860).
167. Person escaping may be afterwards arrested.– If any person liable to be arrested under this Act is not arrested at the time of committing the offence for which he is so liable, or after arrest makes his escape, he may at any time afterwards be arrested and dealt with in accordance with the provisions of section 161 as if he had been arrested at the time of committing such offence.
168. Seizure of things liable to confiscation.– (1) The appropriate officer may seize any goods liable to confiscation under this Act, and where it is not practicable to seize any such goods, he may serve on the owner of the goods or any person holding them in his possession or charge an order that he shall not remove, part with, or otherwise deal with the goods except with the previous permission of such officer.
(3) The appropriate officer may seize any documents or things which in his opinion will be useful as evidence in any proceeding under this Act.
(4) The person from whose custody any documents are seized under sub-section (3) shall be entitled to make copies thereof or take extracts therefrom in the presence of an officer of customs.
169. Things seized how dealt with.– (1) All things seized on the ground that they are liable to confiscation under this Act shall, without unnecessary delay, be delivered into the care of the officer of customs authorized to receive the same.
(2) If there be no such officer at hand, such things shall be carried to and deposited at the customs-house nearest to the place of seizure.
(3) If there be no custom-house within a convenient distance, such things shall be deposited at the nearest place appointed by the Collector of Customs for the deposit of things so seized.
(4) When anything liable to confiscation under this Act is seized by the appropriate officer under section 168, the Collector of Customs, or any other officer of customs authorized by him in this behalf, may notwithstanding the fact that adjudication of the case under section 179, or an appeal under section 193 or 194A or a proceeding in any court, is pending, cause the thing to be sold in accordance with the provisions of section 201 and have the proceeds kept in deposit pending adjudication of the case or as the case may be, disposal of the appeal or the final judgment by the court.
(5) If on such adjudication or, as the case may be, in such appeal or proceeding in Court, the thing so sold is found not to have been liable to such confiscation, the entire sale proceeds, after necessary deduction of duties, taxes or dues as provided in section 201, shall be handed over to the owner.
171. When seizure or arrest is made, reason in writing to be given.– When anything is seized, or any person is arrested under this Act, the officer or other person making such seizure or arrest shall, as soon as may be, inform in writing the person so arrested or the person from whose possession the things are seized of the grounds of such seizure or arrest.
In the latest SROs, PCG officers have been empowered to exercise the powers with limitation including:
— The functions shall be limited within twenty kilometers of coast line;
— The functions shall exclude the city municipal limits, customs areas. Customs stations, ports, borders customs stations, international airports and bonded warehouses etc.;
— They shall not check any bonafide passengerâ€™s baggage and goods cleared from any customs area;
— They shall exercise due care and ensure that these functions are not used to the detriment of trade, imports and exports and to harass the general public; and
— The seized goods shall be dealt with under the relevant provisions of the Customs Act, 1969 (IV of 1969.
KARACHI: The government has given the powers of officers of Pakistan Customs to the officers of Maritime Security Agency (MSA) and Pakistan Coast Guards (PCG) to stop the movement of illegal goods into the country.