New Directorate General Law & Prosecution still awaits powers and budget

KARACHI: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has formed a Committee chaired by Director General Law & Prosecution Majid Yousufani and comprising Collector MCC Appraisement East, Collector MCC Appraisement West and Director Investigation & Intelligence Karachi, which would finalize the recommendations defining jurisdiction, powers, staff and budget of the Directorate General of Law & Prosecution.

In April 2021, FBR appointed the Director General of Directorate General of Law & Prosecution. After that three directors each in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad were appointed. Afterwards, one additional director was appointed in Islamabad and an assistant director in Karachi.

Since, then there has been no further appointments, nor the jurisdiction, powers and budget of the Directorate General was approved. The six officers posted in the Directorate General are not paid their salaries in time.

The existing staff of the new Directorate General has already prepared the draft Rules/SROs defining the jurisdiction and powers, which were forwarded to the FBR.

FBR forwarded the same to all collectorates and directorates for vetting. Now, the drafts have been vetted and are tabled before the Committee.

An official said if properly constituted, Directorate General of Law & Prosecution will have a huge domain including investigation and prosecution. Being an independent body having no relation with revenue collection at all, L&P will promote unbiased and impartial investigation as well as prosecution of cases, which would boost the confidence level of business community and eliminate harassment by the Customs officers and officials.

L&P would also reduce unnecessary burden on Collectorates and Directorates also saving time and resources. However, Customs Intelligence and Investigation has reservations on the proposed domain of the new Directorate General.

Sources said Customs Intelligence and Investigation was against the powers of investigation to the new Directorate General of L&P. Presently, the power to conduct investigation in cases rests with appraisement collectorates as well as directorates.

According to proposed structure and layout, Directorate General of Law & Prosecution shall be headed by a Director General, and have regional offices at Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta and Islamabad. Director General will report to Member (Legal-Customs), FBR.

Each regional officer shall be headed by a director assisted by additional directors, deputy/assistant directors, appraising/valuation officers, inspectors and officials of Customs.

The Directorate General of Law and Prosecution will be responsible for all matters related to the initiation of legal proceedings, investigation, prosecution and defending criminal as well as civil proceedings before all courts including the high Court and Supreme Court of Pakistan through the respective directorate. However, Law & Prosecution will not have jurisdiction over the cases of Customs Intelligence and Investigation.

It may be mentioned here, similar is the situation with the newly created Collectorate of D.I. Khan, where there is no staff, powers and budget.

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