KARACHI: The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Asif Mehmood Jah has dismissed the Review Petition (RP) filed by Haji Abdul Razaq, C/O M/s Ihsan Ullah & Ahsan Ullah Construction Company.

FTO noted the petitioner exhausted himself at full length and failed to make out a case within the encompass of Section 14(8) FTO Ordinance, read with Section 13(1) of the Federal Ombudsmen Institutional Reforms: Act, 2013 establishing that the findings/recommendations order under review suffered from a patent error of law or fact on the face of record followed by material consequences on the merits of the complaint. Resultantly, the RP having no merits.

Haji Abdul Razaq imported specialized construction vehicles. A dispute of valuation was raised by the department on the import of these vehicles in the Year 2013, however, the Deptt released the vehicles as per directions issued by the High Court of Sindh, Karachi vide judgment dated 06.02.2018.

Petitioner, after the Court’s judgment, imported 37 vehicles as per agreement with foreign companies but the Deptt issued Show Cause Notices. Being aggrieved, the Petitioner again filed appeal before the Court. During proceedings, 18 more vehicles were imported by the Petitioner. The Deptt passed Order-in-Original dated 09.07.2020 for confiscation of these vehicles.

Petitioner filed appeals before the Collector (Appeals), which were dismissed. Being dissatisfied by the Order of Collector (Appeals), the Petitioner filed appeals before the Customs Appellate Tribunal (CAT), which were accepted. The vehicles imported by appellants were ordered to be released to the Appellant after payment of leviable duties and taxes.

The Deptt released all the vehicles and issued delay detention certificates in Briefly, the Petitioner imported specialized construction vehicles.

The Petitioner further imported 13 vehicles at two different times, which were released on the same synergy. The Petitioner further stated that 20 more vehicles were imported, which arrived at Dry Port Hyderabad on 09.06.2022 but the Deptt has not released the vehicles and violated the directions of High Court of Sindh, Karachi, and Tribunal.

Collector, Collectorate of Customs, Hyderabad, cleared all pending consignments of Petitioner.

However, on pointing out by Directorate of I&I-Customs, Hyderabad, Collector Hyderabad sought legal clarification from FBR.

Petitioner has prayed that FBR and Hyderabad Collectorate be directed to implement the Ministry of Law’s advice dated 04.10.2022 and necessary proceedings be ordered against Customs officials for misuse of authority and for review of impugned Findings/Recommendations dated 09.09.2022 and further prayed that a direction may be issued to release all the vehicles in light of High Court of Sindh and Appellate Tribunal, respectively.

Petitioner’s reliance on the Appellate Tribunal’s order dated 02.12.2021 was also found twisting of facts and misleading, as it relates to vehicles mentioned in the O-in-O No.01 of 2020 and O-in-A. The said O-in-O, confiscating the vehicles imported in violation of IPO, was upheld by O-in-A.

FTO notes that before embarking upon factual and legal aspects of the case and judging the validity of the impugned Findings/Recommendations, the controversy regarding the conduct of the Petitioner as to whether he came before this forum with clean hands or not requires to be set at rest.

Sources said Haji Razzak was an habitual offender, and they had been importing old and used trucks in garb of cement mixers and construction vehicles.

According to the Import Policy Order (IPO) 2016, import of more than five years old specialized vehicle-mounted machinery and transport equipment such as mobile transit mixer, concrete pumps, crane lorries, concrete placing trucks, dumpers designed for off highway use, cement bulkers and prime movers is not allowed any more. Earlier, import of these goods were allowed to be imported by construction companies, mining, oil, gas and petroleum sector companies having a useful life of five years.

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in view of import of old and used trucks in the garb of above mentioned specialized vehicles through fixing dummy tanks on trucks, FBR recommended imposing a ban on more than five years old specialized vehicles.

More than five years old trucks are not environment friendly and are sold cheaper in the world. Several commercial importers in the name of construction companies were importing this dying vehicles, which were being used for commercial purposes. Since, due to this age restriction, cheaper vehicles could not be imported, the quantum of import such vehicles would decline significantly hence reducing the country’s import bill.

The official said elements like Haji Razzak had expensive lawyers on their panel, while Customs prosecution is weak. Therefore, they win cases finding loopholes causing loss to government revenue. The official said Haji Razzak and others attempted everything to get their goods cleared for once, so that an example is set, and based on this example, they seek relief from the courts. However, Collector Hyderabad Mumtaz Khoso, Additional Collector Dawood Pirzado, Deputy Collector Rana Arsalan are taking all measures within the ambit of law that these goods are cleared, because once illegal clearance is done, it is very challenging to stop their clearance again.