KARACHI: An appellate bench of High Court of Sindh (SHC) comprising Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi and Justice Abdul Malik Gaddi announcing a judgment reserved in March 2019, dismissed the Special Customs Reference Applications filed by custom authorities against order of the Special Customs Appellate Tribunal in alleged smuggled vehicle cases.

The bench allowed the connected Constitutional Petitions filed by the owners of the vehicles while an HCA filed by the department was also dismissed.

The SCRA’s, CPs and HCA arise out of different seizures and detentions made by the custom appraisement and preventive on charge of being non custom paid smuggled vehicles.

The majority of the vehicles detained were of older model from 1997 to 2000. The department also alleged that chasis of the seized vehicles have been tampered. The bench noted a number of legal lacuna and faulty FSL. The bench held that orders passed by the tribunal needs no interference as these were on correct appraisal of facts and proper application of laws and thus do not suffer from any infirmity or factual error. The bench also found that in most of the cases, the persons in possession of the vehicles were second to fifth owner, had valid registration documents and in some cases ownership was proved on the basis of auction letters, payment of all government dues etc.

The department was represented by a battery of lawyers including Kashif Nazeer, Afsheen Aman, Muhammad Khalid Dogar while respondents/owners were represented by Ms Dil Khurram Saheen Shafqat Zaman and  Pervez Ahmed Mastoi advocates.

According to details the SCRAs date back to 2010. 2013, 2014 while HCA was of 2017 and CPs were of 2018. The bench reserved the judgment on 5-3-2019 while reheard the case on July 09, 2020 and judgment was dated 9-7-2020.