SHC over turns judgment of Special Custom Appellate Tribunal

KARACHI: A Customs Appellate bench of High Court of Sindh reversed a judgment passed by Special Customs Appellate Tribunal (SCAT) which ordered release of vehicles used for smuggling of Iranian Diesel and Bitumen.

The bench was hearing a constitution petition CP-D 4188 of 2020 filed by Messers Panjgour Goods Transport Co and three Special Custom Reference Applications (SCRAs) filed by Pakistan Ciustoms.

Ms Dil Khurram Shaheen appeared for the petitioner while department  was represented by Khalid Rajpar Advocate.  The issues were identical as Hino vehicles were used for alleged smuggling of Iranian Diesel and Bitumen in open or concealed caivites.

The diesel was confiscated while Bitumen was not ordered to be confiscated during the departmental adjudication process.

During the hearing the bench noted that  offence is governed by SRO 499 (1) 2009  issued under section 181 of the Customs Act 1969 in suppression of its earlier SRO 487/2007. It provides that no option shall be given to pay fine in liue of  confiscation in respect of smuggled goods involving lawfully registered conveyance including packages, and containers found carrying smuggled goods in false cavities or being used exclusively or wholly for transportation of goods under clause (s) of Section 2 of the Custom Act 1969.

The SHC bench relied on a judgment by Balochistan High Court, Muhammad Hanif case wherein it was held that  release of a confiscated vehicle carrying  smuggled goods could not be sanctioned in liue of payment of a redemption fine. The SHc bench said that this judgment was upheld by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The bench noted that judgment by the SCAT was contrary to the  earlier pronouncements by the superior courts thus not sustainable and tribunal erred in law by releasing  the vehicles against  redemption fine ignoring the spirit of  (SRO 499 91) / 2009 DATED 13-06-2009.

The bench with above observation dismissed the petition while all the three SCRA’s filed by the department were allowed.

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