SHC closes door of direct approach in Custom, Sales Tax FIR cases

KARACHI: Sindh High Court closed the doors for those petitioners/applicants/ accused who challenges registration of FIR of which the trial court i.e. Special Court for Customs, Sales Tax etc has taken cognizance of.

The bench while hearing three Constitution Petitions CP-D-1083 OF 2020, CP-D 4410 OF 2020 and CP-D 2092 OF 2021 HELD THAT “Ordinary course of  criminal proceedings could not be allowed to be deflected by resort to writ jurisdiction. The statutory for a  being the Special Court and or Special Bench are competent to determine the viability of the relevant criminal proceedings and regulate the custody of the accused”.

The bench earlier heard Aqeel Ahmed Khan advocate representing the petitioners who sought indulgence of court for quashing of FIRs. The crux of this determination is whether the proceedings for quashing criminal proceedings/grant of bail in taxation related offences, ought to the entertained by the High Court directly under Article 199 of the Constitution, notwithstanding the law mandating such matters to the proceed before the court/bench of statutory conferred jurisdiction: the bench noted.

The bench further noted that petitioners/ applicants/accused have already been granted concession of bail by civil tax bench.

Aqeel Ahmed Khan advocate submitted that irrespective of registration of criminal proceedings vide the respective FIRs and submission of challan before the competent trial court, seeking interference of High Court bench is appropriate remedy available to the accused/petitioners.

Shahid Ali Qureshi advocate, counsel for the department opposed the petitions and said High Court was “forum non conveniences” for the present petitions and determination or juding the viability of the criminal proceedings is the exclusive domain of the trial court where before such proceedings are pending.T

he bench also noted that in respect of petitions before it the respective FIRs have been lodged and challan was also submitted before the trial court prior to the filing of the instant petitions.

The bench also held that governing statute also envisages a bar upon any court, other than the Special Court and the Special Bench, to entertain any application or petition or pass any order or give any direction  with respect inter alia to bail, in regard to the relevant statutory offences”.

The bench after detailed hearing  dismissed all the three petitions refusing to interfere in exclusive jurisdiction of the trial court.

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