Customs Enforcement seeks permission to file CPLA

KARACHI:  The hearing of a contempt plea filed by Hasan Nadeem and others, owners of goods stored at rented Godowns was adjourned to a date in office by a Division bench of High Court of Sindh comprising Justice Muhammad Junaid Ghaffar and Justice Agha Faisal.

Earlier, Khalid Rajper advocate counsel appeared before the bench with alleged contemnors including Muhammad Saqif Saeed,Collector Customs (Preventive) Shaifullah, Assistant Collector of Customs and Iftikhar Hussain Khan Superintendent Custom House and Hassan Raza Preventive Officer.

The counsel informed the bench that the orders of the bench in this matter were challenged before the apex court which on 18-1-2021 passed some restraining order in CPLANo 3606/2020. The said order will be available to the appellants in course of time.

The bench asked the counsel to place the said order on record on next date of hearing. The bench with the above direction dispensed the alleged contemnors from personal appearance.

The case pertains to invoking and enforcing section 162 and 163 of the Customs Act 1969. The bench made serious observations in respect of  conduct of custom officers / raiding party and also noted violation of different sections providing protection particularly infringement of fundamental rights.

The bench also directed the Secretary Revenue Division / Chairman FBR  to conduct  an inquiry in respect of the “prima facie manifest unfettered  exercise of power  by functionaries, conducting search and seizures in violation of Act and the fundamental rights inter alia with respect to livelihood and liberty enshrined in the Constitution”. The bench also ordered “appropriate proceedings against those found culpable”.

The bench also sought a report by Chairman FBR through the office of the Attorney General within 4 weeks to be submitted to the Registrar of SHC.

Khawaja Shamsul Islam advocate represented the petitioners while departmental respondents including Collector, MCC (Enforcement & Compliance) were represented by Khalid Rajper advocate.. The counsel for petitioners contended that respondents acted beyond jurisdiction and violated laws particularly section 162 and 163 of the Customs Act. Admittedly, no one was available at the warehouses when the same were raided at 3 a.m on 2-10-2020. The respondents failed to follow the  section 162 of the Act, no search warrant was sought or obtained and alternative section 163 of the Act was employed in an attempt to garner the sanction of law, the counsel for petitioners argued.

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