SHC to hear arguments on quashing of FIR, adjudication proceedings

KARACHI: The hearing of a petition filed by the Popular Juice Industries Private Limited was adjourned till Sept 23 by a Custom appellate bench of High Court of Sindh (SHC) when court will be assisted by the petitioner as well as respondent side to examine that whether raid and sealing of the factory premises of the petitioner company was lawful and with jurisdiction.

Earlier pursuant to court notice, Collector Customs, Preventive Saqif Saeed, Additional Collector Haroon Waqas Malik, Assistant Collector Saifullah, SPO Malik Safdar and PIO Customs Hassan Sardar appeared before the bench along with Khalid Rajpar Advocate. They were asked to explain their action including raid and confiscation of dry milk powder bags after midnight available at the factory premises of the petitioner.

1650 bags of dry milk powder of Iranian origin, 1800 bags of USA, 400 bags of  milk powder of un-known origin and 140 bags of food chemical were found during the raid, maintains the respondent custom officials. It was further contended that petitioner side was asked to produce documents to establish that recovered goods were legally imported and duty and taxes have been paid but they failed after which offending goods were confiscated under musheernama prepared under signature of musheers including employees of petitioner company.

Khalid Rajpar advocate defending the action taken by the respondents argued that notice and order under Section 163 of the Customs Act 1969 was issued. The respondents maintained that they have the powers to raid any place if there was genuine apprehension that if action is delayed, the offending goods would be removed.

Navin Merchant advocate, counsel for petitioners including Senator Imamuddin Shoqeen pressed for quashing of FIR and submitted that action by the respondents was without lawful authority and jurisdiction.

Khalid Rajpar in response stated that FIR has been submitted before the Special Court for Custom, Excise and Taxation Karachi which has taken cognizance and therefore FIR cannot be quashed at this stage.

The bench after hearing both the sides at length while restraining the respondents from any coercive action against the Directors of the petitioner company adjourned the proceedings for Sept 23 directing the sides to assist the court that whether FIR can be quashed. The respondents were also allowed to initiate adjudication proceedings while petitioners were asked to cooperate in such proceedings.

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