KARACHI: An appellate bench of High Court of Sindh (SHC) comprising Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Zulfiqar Ahmed Khan on Thursday heard a number of petitions filed by importers of grey fabric (Polyster, unfinished, un-dyed) against non-release of their consignments being Indian manufactured and thus felling into banned item list under Import policy.

Shafqat Chowhan, a lawyer from Lahore opened the arguments after he told the bench that his case was remanded back by the Supreme Court.

Assisted by Ghulam Hyder Shaikh advocate, he said that after filing of Goods Declaration (GD’s), the consignments were physically examined by the official concerned of Pakistan Custom and reports were prepare in which it was mentioned that bales of cloth contained marking of China.

The goods were however not released  after which importer/petitioner filed a constitution petition on 4-11-2016 seeking an stay order.

The respondent officials issued a show cause notice under section 46 of the Customs Act 1969 in respect of 5 consignments while there were 33 GD’s in all and no show cause was issued till date in respect of remaining 28 consignments, submitted the counsel. The show cause was issued after SHC issued notice of the petition, he added.

He contended that Certificate of Origin was submitted with the authorities who got it confirmed “online” but later notice under section 26 were issued requiring of the importers/petitioners to prove that consignments are not from origin which is banned under the import policy. A letter of confirmation from UAE authorities regarding details of manufacture was also provided to the custom authorities on demand, submitted Shafqat Chowhan advocate.

The counsel was then asked to read out the contents of a public notice issued by the department regarding ban on grey fabric from India in order to protect the Pakistan’s local industry.

The counsel referred to the various sections of Customs Act including section 16 pertaining to “Rules of Origin” and said petitioners/importers provided all documents except “Master Bill of Landing” of UAE  Importer as it was not in their possession.

To a question by Justice Zulfiqar Ahmed Khan, the counsel said that China has a different set of rules and commercial laws and Chinese authorities normally do not disclose the name of manufacturer.

He then referred to para wise comments filed by department and said only word “suspected” was used and no other allegation or evidence was adduced by the custom officials. It was merely a fishing inquiry, he submitted.

The bench later adjourned further hearing till today (Friday). Rasheed A Razvi, Adnan Motan and others are appearing for the petitioners while official respondents were represented by Assistant Collector Dr. Muhammad Ahmed Malik, Principal Appraiser Tariq Aziz, Ilyas Khan, Principal Appraiser Law, Masooda Siraj and Kashiq Nazeer while MCC East remained un-represented.