Whether FIR can be registered at a place not declared Police Station Customs restrained from harassing Modern Terminal Operator

KARACHI: A division bench of High Court of Sindh (SHC) comprising Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi and Justice Zulfiqar Ahmed Khan issued notice in a petition filed by Modern Terminal Operator challenging the validity of a FIR registered by Custom officials at a place which is not declared as a police station.

The bench after hearing initial arguments by Sohail Muzaffar advocate, counsel for the petitioner / port operator also issued notice to the respondents for July 8 while restraining them from harassing any of the partners of the partnership

The chairman FBR, Collector, MCC Port Muhammad Bin Qasim (PMBQ), Junaid Ahmed Appraising Officer MCC PMBQ, Ahsan Traders, Elysium Corporation, Zamzam Plastic Industries are cited as respondents.

The petitioner manages Off Dock Terminal at PMBQ as per Standing Order No 1(T)/2014 (PQ) and handles the consignments imported by different importers. The petitioner was booked in a FIR SI/MISC/41/2019/PQ-CIU dated 26-5-2019 pertaining to an alleged incident of cross stuffing of consignments imported by two of the respondent companies namely Elysium Corporation and Zamzam Plastic Industries.

The petitioner operator maintains that FIR was lodged on a plain piece of paper and was not on the form provided under Section 154 Cr.P.C. and has not been registered at a place declared as “Police Station” in terms of Section 4 (s) of the Cr.P.C. It adds that the Custom House is not notified as a Police Station and also the word FIR is alien to the Customs Act 1969.

It was further contended that the FIR was registered in violation of Section 185-a 0f the Customs Act 1969 and thus Special Judge (Customs & Taxation) cannot take the cognizance on the basis of such FIR and that the Special Court can assume jurisdiction after a complaint is filed by a Custom officer under Section 200 of Cr.P.C.

The petition becomes interesting as if allowed, officials of customs would not be empowered to lodge FIRs and arrest violators of the custom laws.

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