Delay in final determination of liability: Benefit goes to importer

KARACHI: Deciding a petition filed by Messers Spectrum Enterprises, a customs appellate bench of High Court of Sindh held that after provisional determination/assessment, Customs department is bound to make a final determination within stipulated period of six months.

In case of failure, the benefit shall go to the importer.

According to details, importer company imported two consignments and filed goods declaration under section 79 of the Customs Act 1969  which was objected to by the respondents Assistant Collector Customs, Port Muhammad Bin Qasim and others.

The goods were provisionally released under section 81 of the Act after differential amount of duties and taxes were secured by bank guarantee or pay order.

The bench declined to accept the interpretation of section 81, its sub sections and provisos as advanced by the respondent customs and it observed that “if the interpretation of the respondents is accepted then customs would never bother to determine it finally and would enjoy benefit of not doing anything after provisional release”. The bench further observed that in this case respondents conceded that the cause of delay in final determination is not attributable to the importer.

In our view to claim the amount which was secured by the importer as differential amount either for warehousing or for release for home consumption, the final determination is inevitable after provisional  determination and since it has not been done within the prescribed time under sub-section 2 of the section 81 of the Custom Act 1969 nor within any extended period of time the bench said allowing the petition and directing the custom to release the secure amount/pay order to the importer forthwith.

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