KARACHI: The members of All Pakistan Shipping Association (APSA), the representative body of shipping fraternity, have filed defamatory suits 92/2018, 93/2018 and 95/2018 before the District and Session Court Karachi under Defamation Ordinance 2002 and the court has pleased to restrain Customs today from making or circulating any defamatory statements in written or spoken, directly or indirectly and a Criminal Complaint under section 499/500 Pakistan Penal Code is being lodged against website and its agents and management.
Accordig to APSA its members handle the entire seaborne trade of Pakistan amounting to almost 70 billion rupees each year and contribute several hundred million dollars to the national exchequer each year. APSA has expresseed its grave concern at the heinous and libelous campaign which is relentlessly being disseminated by an unregistered, tabloid website “Customs today” for the last two months against its member shipping lines, terminal operators and their respective principals, directors and employees of alleged blackmailing and breach of trust and provisions of Pakistan Custom Act.
While condemning this malicious concocted and baseless campaign and demanded the regulatory bodies i.e. PEMRA, Ministry of Port and Shipping, and FIA Cybercrime wing to take immediate action to stop the spread of these malicious and false allegations of this unregistered website , run and managed by a freight forwarder “Global Logistics Co” (both owned by the same person Mr. Shahid Mehmood, having CNIC No.3520203001251) using it to blackmail the customs officials and shipping lines/terminal operators in order to provide cover to a group of importers (purportedly owned by same forwarder/website management) for release of their shipments held by customs due to mis-declaration for duty-tax evasion, and to get waivers on carriers and terminals dues. ASPA also requests His excellencies, the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Ports and Shipping as well as the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo moto of these baseless and defamatory allegations against world’s renowned shipping companies and terminal operators that have heavily invested & are operating in Pakistan, which is nothing but an attempt to discourage foreign investors from coming to Pakistan and to adversely affect the name of Pakistan.
The modus operandi is such that they intimidate through telephone calls from cell Nos. 00923005195817 & 00923018414118 through their so-called news analyst and then send their Agent namely Mr. Imran who introduces himself as a representative of said freight forwarder & Customs today. He then intimidates the staff of the carrier/operator through threats of publication of the news story if the waiver of charges is not granted. If the staff of the carrier/terminal operator rejects the demands, next day they start a malicious campaign on the website.
APSA, brings the facts on record that using the same modus operandi, this gang pressurised the customs officials and unlawfully obtained Delay-Detention Certificates against various shipments that were held by Pakistan Customs on account of mis-declaration. Petitions No. CP-5499/2018, CP-5500/2018, CP-5501/2018, CP-5502/2018, CP-5503/2018, CP-5504/2018, CP-5505/2018 filed at Sindh High Court by these importers were disposed after payment of applicable duties/taxes. Those importers got their containers released but it is pertinent to mentioned here that despite mis-declarations in an item to evade government revenue, they managed to get Delay Detention Certificate for shipments having Bills of Lading number:141800054877, 140817110629, SHOT80075800, KMTCNB0469944, KMTCNB0469867, KMTCNB02874408, KMTCNB0469834, TFTSC0101697 and TFTSC0111820 from customs.
Thereafter, these importers in connivance with Freight Forwarder Global Logistics Co., started harassing and pressurising the carriers and terminal operators through the so-called tabloid news portal and got their containers released through Custom Release Order to Terminal operator in terms of Rule 442 of Pakistan Customs Rules. However, later the custom competent authorities vide letter dated 11-Sep-2018 informed our members that pending investigation, all these DDCs may be treated as withdrawn ab initio.