KARACHI: Exemption from duty and taxes is a privilege enjoyed by the diplomats and dignItories and not available to private persons. This was the out-come of a litigation between owner of a Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle and Customs department which claimed “duty and taxes” as “further claim”.

According to details a Toyota Land Cruiser was imported by Afghan Consulate General which was registered by the Motor Registration Wing, Karachi under Registration Number 5831 in the name of Merjuddin, Second Secretary of the Consulate. After an year of import, a request was made by the Consulate General to transfer the vehicle in the name of another person citing “security reasons”. The request was acceded and a new registration number 5655 was issued to hide identity of Number CC-01-18 which is usually issued to vehicles of Embassy or a Consulate of a Foreign Country under Vienna Convention.

The vehicle was found in custody of one Falak Jan, Last transferee. A show cause was issued to him to prove that it is a custom duty paid vehicle. The Adjudicating Officer passing Order in Original ordered outright confiscation against which an appeal was filed by the possessor which ordered release of the vehicle.

The owner/possessor moved SHC for implementation of the order of the Special Custom Appellate Tribunal while Collector Customs filed a Special Customs Reference Application (SCRA) challenging order of the tribunal.

The SHC bench headed by Justice Muhammad Shafi Siddiqui after hearing arguments at length from both sides dismissed the petition while allowing SCRA filed by the department on ground that once ownership is transferred from a diplomat to a private person (local), the customs department could demand payment of duty and taxes due as “Further claim”.