SHC to hear 2000 SCRA’s pertaining to Afghan transit on Feb 21

KARACHI: A division bench of High Court of Sindh comprising Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed on Friday fixed Feb 21 as date for hearing more than 2000 Special Custom Reference Applications (SCRA’s) pertaining to Afghan Transit Trade.

More than 1000 SCRA’s were filed by Pakistan Customs, Port Muhammad Bin Qasim while about 900 were filed by National Logistics Cell and another 90 or more were filed by Importers from Afghanistan.

Today counsel for NLC appeared and sought time to examine the case files. The court allowing the request referred to its order passed on 2-11-2016 so that the counsel may understand the nature of controversy and court’s attempt for  case management. Earlier on a previous hearing the court observed that these cases require case management so that basic controversies involved are decided while hearing the main petitions filed by different petitioners/appellants.

The issue in hand pertains to the responsibility of cross border certificate. Whether the clearing agent or National Logistic Cell is responsible for the documents certifying that the goods destined for Afghanistan under transit trade reached their final destination (in Afghanistan-Torkham border) is the main controversy as Customs department holds clearing agent for cross border certificate while clearing agents/importer shift burden onto NLC.

When the Special Customs Reference Application (SCRA) 334 of 2015 was taken up, all the counsel including Ghulam Hyder Sheikh of Franklin Law Associates duly instructed by CEO Faisal Ghani, representing Collector Customs, Port Muhammad Bin Qasim were in attendance.

The bench observed that that it could not proceed with the case unless the “case management” is completed so that the law points raised in these hundreds of petitions and identical in nature are dealt with and decided as such.

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