KARACHI: Rejecting the arguments advanced by Tariq Aziz, representative of Pakistan Customs, Port Qasim Collectorate opposing release of a consignment after importer contested assessment order, a division bench of High Court of Sindh (SHC) held that provisional release is not a concession or discretion of the department.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by A.F.Steel Re-Rolling Mills. Ghulam Nabi Shar advocate appearing for the petitioner submitted that value of consignment imported has been enhanced without assigning any reason and when it was contested, a letter has been issues stating that the values under the same period have been found to be much higher of the other importers hence petitioner’s value could not be accepted.

The counsel submitted that petitioner is ready to secure differential amount with the Nazir of the court while seeking a direction to the respondent collectorate to pass a well reasoned assessment  order in terms of section 80 of the Custom Act 1969 after affording an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner side.

Mr Tariq Aziz appearing for the Port Qasim Collectorate of Pakistsan Customs vehemently opposed the arguments and said it is not a case wherein provisional release could be granted.

The bench after hearing the sides in its order said it disagrees with arguments of Mr Tariq Aziz. The bench noted that it is a well settled law that once an importer disputes any assessment, then seeking provisional release of consignment in dispute is a matter of right in terms of Section 81 of the Customs Act 1969 and not as a concession or discretion on the part of the department.

The bench allowed provisional release per dicta laid down in Danish Jahangir case and ordered the petitioner to secure differential amount before Nazir of SHC. Nazir of SHC was asked to issue a certificate and customs department was ordered forth with release once such certificate is produced before them.