KARACHI: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) has approached the federal minister of finance praying that an amendment in Section 156(I) of the Customs Act, 1969 should be withdrawn.

The amendment suggests that if invoice/packing list is not found in the imported containers, the importer could be imposed a penalty of Rs50,000.

FPCCI in a letter to Ishaq Dar noted that such a measure would defame and stigmatize the trade friendly government.

Customs Rule 389 and 391 of 2001 provide that the owner of goods and carrier will explicitly stipulate the requirement of placing documents in the manner prescribed as n obligatory condition to the person packing or shipping the cargo.

Hence, when a condition in letter of credit is inserted by importer, the importer is lawfully absolved from the responsibilities as per Rule 389 and 391. Thus the proposed amendment is totally against the basic rights of citizens of Pakistan.

“An offence committed by a foreign person outside the constitutional geographical boundaries cannot be adjudicated under Customs Act, which has no jurisdiction to the site or scene of an incidental offence. Therefore, FPCCI requests that the subject amendment may immediately be withdrawn,” the letter noted.

Omer Adam, a lawyer, said Customs Act, 1969 is only applicable within the territorial jurisdiction of Pakistan and has no application outside the boundaries of Pakistan. Therefore, an act which has been declared illegal by the CA, 1969 or an amendment thereto cannot be held to be an illegal act under any foreign jurisdiction unless independently declared illegal by the laws of that Country.

It is trite law that a person living in a foreign jurisdiction is bound by the laws of the country and therefore it is very unlikely that a person in Pakistan can be held accountable for an act committed by a person in a foreign jurisdiction specially once the act complained of is held legal by that foreign country.

“Under the circumstances I believe that the proposed amendment could be challenged under Article 8 of the Constitution for being inconsistent with or in derogation of fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” Adam said.