SHC Customs going for vehicle not persons Nothing prevents customs from action against MVR officials

KARACHI: Customs is chasing car leaving the persons, observed a division bench of High Court of Sindh (SHC) comprising Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi and Justice Mahmood A Khan while hearing a case of alleged smuggled 5000 CC Land Rover vehicle.

As the proceedings in the case commence, Khalid Rajper Advocate, counsel for Preventive Collectorate submitted that  vehicle has been released provisionally on payment of duty and taxes as calculated by the department. To a query by the court, he submitted that department presses the Special Customs Reference Application (SCRA).

It is a case of smuggling (2 S of Customs Act 1969) as there are no import documents,  no duty or taxes paid. He said that owner claims to be a subsequent purchaser from auction by a foreign embassy. Relying on a letter from Motor Vehicle Registration (MVR) department, the counsel for appellant/customs submitted that as per letter of MVR, they have allowed sub-registration but due to heavy flow of work, the necessary documents could not be scanned.

If there is loss to national exchequer, what stops you from taking action, the bench observed.

The registration was done in 2010 while the vehicle was of 2013 model, submitted Khalid Rajpar advocate. He read from the record and stated that vehicle was parked outside a school in Clifton when ASO officials on the basis of a credible information took the vehicle into custody along-with driver Nooristan  son of Hakim Ali Khan. The vehicle was owned by Nosheen Leghari daughter of Noor Ellahi Legahri, cousin of ex-president Farooq Leghari.

The bench at this stage enquired from the custom’s counsel that what powers the customs has to intercept or go and knock at the door of someone and ask for documents. The vehicle is freely importable and prima facie it is a case of re-registration. It is a very dangerous approach that customs officials are going after vehicles leaving the persons, the bench observed adding that there are rackets having investors, ex-officials, officials in service etc who are managing the entire system.

In most of the cases, we find the MVR’s role. MVR people be sent to jail, the bench observed.

Mrs Rukhsana Ahmed ex- judge SHC and counsel for owner/respondent informed the bench that vehicle was taken into custody as children of an officer were denied admission in the school.

The counsel for appellant/department argued that onus of proving the ownership as well as lawful import, of submitting  documents required by the customs, rest with the owner. Concluding his arguments, Khalid Rajpar submitted case laws to prove that onus is on the owner  of the vehicle/respondent.

The bench then put of further proceedings till Feb 25 at 11 a.m when respondent side will submit arguments.

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