SHC departs SCRA’s, petition in soap valuation cases

KARACHI: An appellate bench of High Court of Sindh (SHC) comprising Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Abdul Malik Gaddi on Wednesday departed with a part heard petition and connected Special Customs Reference Applications (SCRA’s) pertaining to the valuation of toilet soaps and soap noodles. The petition and SCRA’s will now be heard a fresh by another bench.

The bench was due to hear ten Special Customs References and petition today but it could not proceed as bench was told that leading counsel Khalid Javed Khan is busy before Supreme Court of Pakistan, Karachi Registry. The counsel for respondent Custom officials including Kashif Nazir and Masooda Siraj were in attendance.

The bench noted that hearing in the matter would be delayed and it became a complex issue. Anticipating inordinate delay in deciding the issue, the bench said it deem appropriate to depart the case so that a new bench could hear it a-fresh. The bench however ordered maintenance of interim orders (stay order in favor of Pakistan Customs).

The SCRA’s were filed by the Customs challenging the order of the Special Customs Tribunal, which allowed the appeals by the respondents/importers of toilet soap from different countries of origin. The tribunal allowing the appeals held that Director Valuation did not applied the methods for determination of value in sequence envisaged under section 25 D of the Customs Act 1969.

The importers questioned the Valuation Ruling 702 of 2012 under which Customs Valuation determined the custom duty of soap at a rate of US $ 700-750 against a  previous rate of US $ 350-450 US $ per metric ton.

The petitioners/importers challenged the said VR 702/2012 before the customs authorities and later before the tribunal. All Pakistan Soap Manufacturer Association later became party to the petition/proceedings. The Association representative submitted that they support the VR 702/2012, as it is protective to the local soap industry.

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