SHC adjourns petition till Feb 06, orders implementation of order dated 24-12-2019 KEPZ Steel Mega Scam

KARACHI: A customs appellate bench of High Court of Sindh (SHC) has asked the Adjudication Collectorate, Pakistan Customs to ensure compliance of its order dated 24-12-2019.

The bench heard Zain Jatoi advocate, the counsel for petitioner side who drew the attention of the court towards its order in which the customs was asked to initiate and decide the adjudication proceedings in the case and also to consider the request of petitioners for provisional release of the items.

Earlier, Directorate of Intelligence & Investigations (DIT) sought adjournment as its counsel Mehmood Alam Rizvi was stated to be unwell. The bench was told by Zain Jatoi advocate that neither the adjudication proceedings were concluded nor request for provisional release was considered as ordered by this court.

The bench gave final chance to the respondents while adjourning further proceedings till Feb 06 with direction to ensure compliance failing which appropriate action will be taken.

The petition pertains to a huge mega steel scandal at Karachi Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) and according to DIT involves “economic terrorism”, money laundering etc. Billions of rupees in duty and taxes have been evaded in the scam, DIT maintains and questions the weak contraventions reports prepared by the KEPZ Customs which were stated to be devoid of primary material, incriminating evidence and other material facts which were included and incorporated in contravention reports prepared by the DIT.

The bench in its previous order has held that DIT has no jurisdiction in the case but if they have material evidence, DIT can take its case before the Adjudicating authority and lay evidence or material proof. The bench also ordered the adjudication strictly in accordance with law.

The case appears to be heading towards controversy between two departments of Pakistan Customs as DIT has prepared and submitted strong contraventions reports before the Adjudication Collector II. The Adjudication Collectorate is not ready to proceed on the basis of DIT’s contravention report as its Collector Iqbal Bhawana in a letter has held that in the presence of contravention reports submitted by Customs EPZ, there is no need to issue fresh show cause on the basis of contravention reports submitted by the DIT. The DIT in a major objection maintains that accused, actually involved in the case were not served with show cause notices and thus accused will be saved due to misdirected adjudication proceedings entitling them to benefit of doubt.

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