SHC seeks written comments of Commerce Ministry by Aug 15

KARACHI: A divisional bench of High Court of Sindh comprising Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Justice Khadim Hussain Shaikh on Monday adjourned hearing of identical petitions filed by Haji Ihsanullah of Ihsanullah Construction Company till Aug 15.

The bench directed the Deputy Attorney General for Pakistan Salman Talibuddin to call comments from the Ministry of Commerce  about import policy in respect of dumper trucks.

Earlier Faisal Siddiqui advocate appearing for the petitioner submitted that despite repeated orders, comments from Ministry of Commerce were not submitted.

DAG Salman Talibuddin submitted that Ministry has no nexus with the case and matter purely pertains to the Customs alone. Faisal Siddiqui submitted that orders in respect of Commerce Ministry were passed in the presence of DAG after Pakistan Customs categorically stated that only Ministry of Commerce can allow release of the vehicles. The orders have been passed and now respondents have to comply with the orders of this court, he submitted. The bench while deferring further proceedings till August 15, in its order said that at leat comments shall be filed by the Ministry of Commerce.

The Court on a previous hearing in July, asked the Commerce Ministry to make a clarification that whether the old and used Concrete Mixture Truck and other construction machinery import was legal or illegal.

The petitioner moved the court seeking release of over 50 vehicles of different nature including Concrete Mixture trucks,  Dumper Trucks, Crane Lorries and other construction vehicles detained by the Model Customs Collectorate, Hyderabad on ground that these were adopted vehicles and declared at very low value by the petitioner/importer.

The petitioner maintains that he is a registered government contractor and is rendering valuable service to the Pak Army in the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and other tribal areas. It was maintained that for different projects of utmost importance in view of present political and security environment within the country, petitioner imported over 250 vehicles to augment the mechanization of the construction works on projects of national importance completes on time.

Citing the chairman FBR, Collector Customs, MCC Hyderabad, Additional Collector, Deputy Collector and Assistant Commissioner of MCC Hyderabad besides Director, Additional Director Valuation and Director Intelligence and Investigations as respondents, the counsel maintains that his company entered into an agreement for import of 950 construction vehicles at unit value. The first consignment of 70  units arrived at Karachi and was trans-shipped to MCC Hyderabad. The GD was filed after which the respondents of MCC Hyderabad disputed the declared value  at which the petitioner requested for provisional release of the vehicles were released by respondents after securing  disputed amount of duties and taxes and referred the matter to the Director Valuation. The Additional Director Valuation refused the assessment and asked the MCC Hyderabad officials to assess themselves on the case to case basis. In the mean while Collector Customs, MCC Hyderabad assessed the value violating the section 25 of the Customs Act 1969, the petitioner maintained adding that they challenged the assessment by the Collector Customs.

In the intervening period another consignment of 194 units arrived out of which 179 units were released on orders of the court.  However still 34 units are being detained by the MCC Hyderabad for being “adopted” and imported in violation of ban on import of such vehicles.

The petitioner prays to the court to declare that import of the disputed vehicles was in accordance with the Import Policy Order 2013, direct the respondents to accept the declared value and release the same at declared value. The court was also prayed to direct the respondents to issue delay detention certificates in respect of these vehicles.

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