Supreme Court suspends order of SHC, grants leave to appeal Indian sugar for Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: A full bench of  Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Faisal Arab  and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel  suspended a judgment of a division bench of High Court of Sindh in Indian sugar case destined for Afghanistan under Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).

The bench heard Senior Advocate Supreme Court Raja Muhammad Iqbal who argued the case on the basis of APTTA as well as international conventions and relying on different sections of APTTA submitted that Directorate General of Transit Trade, Pakistan Customs exercising powers and mandate stopped the 265 consignments of Indian White Sugar. The action was taken as per Pakistani laws as well as international obligations as custom officers detected unusual color and smell from the consignments (pale yellow color and pungent smell) and while detaining the same, drew samples and sent them for examination to different laboratories which reported that sugar was not fit for human consumption.

The importer challenged the detention of consignments before the High Court of Sindh which a fortnight  back deciding the petition, ordered Pakistan Customs to ensure safe transit of consignments to border. The said order was challenged before the apex court in a leave to appeal which was granted yesterday. As a result contempt of court proceedings before the High Court of Sindh were also stopped.

The counsel for Afghan importer was also present at the hearing. Dr. Arsalan Subuctageen Member Legal, FBR, Dr Sarfraz Warriach, Director General, Directorate of Transit Trade and Javed Chaudhry, Chief Legal FBR appeared for the Pakistan Customs.

The case was detected and is being contested upto apex court due to interest duly taken by the DG of Transit Trade Sarfraz Warraich and Madam Zeba Azhar who also faced mounting pressure from Afghan Consulate at Karachi seeking release of the consignment but all pressure was staved off on ground that human health issue cannot be ignored and an edible item which is unfit for human consumption shall not pass through the territory of Pakistan. The Directorate of Transit Trade is also taking major steps to stop abuse of transit facility for Afghanistan and most modern gadgets have been procured which will be installed soon for fool proof scanning of items in transit.

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