KARACHI: The Special Customs Court at Karachi returned challan in case of alleged smuggling of betel nuts to the Pakistan Customs holding that “only custom adjudication is a proper forum in this case”.
The court in its order dated 29-8-2019 began with noting that Special Prosecutor was put on notice to verify that the whether the Federal government has issued any notification in respect of betel nuts placing the same in list under Section 2 (s).
The Special Prosecutor confirmed that although a request has been sent to the federal government to include the betel nuts in the list of items prohibited under Section 2 (s) but till date no notification is issued and thus betel nuts as not listed in SRO 566(1)/2005 dated 6-6-2005.
The court noted that Section 2 (s) does not refer to goods, the importation or exportation of which is prohibited elsewhere which situation is governed by Section 156, clause 9 of the Customs Act 1969.
The learned judge of Special Customs Court citing a number of case laws said in the order that in view of judgments that “this court has no jurisdiction to try the accused found in possession of betel nuts which is not notified item under Section 2 (s) without valid import documents”
The order further says that “under Section 156 (1) (9) & 90 there is exclusive jurisdiction lying with custom adjudicating authority”.
Pakistan Custom’s different formations including Directorate of Intelligence & Investigations, Preventive (ASO), Appraisement East, West, Port Muhammad Bin Qasim registered over 100 cases of betel nuts smuggling as these were recovered from consignments showing other items but during examination betel nuts were found stuffed. The Plant Quarantine Department has objection over import of betel nuts as the consignments were said to be damaged by fungus and unfit for human consumption.