KARACHI: A two member regular bench of High Court of Sindh comprising Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi and Justice Abdul Mobeen Lakho disposed of a petition CP-D 1705 of  2024 filed by Messer’s China Textile Curtains & Blanket Industry allowing a Review Application.

Javed Farooqui advocate represented the petitioner company while Khalid Mehmood Rajper represented the Customs department. The counsel for petitioner at the outset submitted that on account of misstatement on behalf of  learned counsel for  the Custom department, an order was passed on  30.4.2024 i.e alleged registration of FIR and initiation of adjudication proceedings at Peshawar, instant petition was disposed of with the directions to the Petitioner to seek remedy before appropriate forum in accordance with law. The counsel for petitioner further submitted that the subject consignments are still lying at the port and not the part or subject matter of any FIR or adjudication proceedings at Peshawar which pertains to some earlier consignments in the name of Premier Textile Blanket Industry (Consignee) and the petitioners i.e china Textile Curtains & Blanket  Industry have no nexus with such consignments or FIR/adjudication proceedings. The counsel for petitioner relied on a judgment  title Belal Mostafa Sadeqi Ltd V/s Collector of Customs & others and said identical controversy was decided in the said case law. He said such judgment is attracted in case of present 28 consignments of the petitioner wherein change of consignee name in IGM is sought and withholding the same relief is illegal on part of the custom authorities.

The bench proceeded with the matter in the absence of Khalid Mehmood Rajpar, counsel for Pakistan Customs as Muhammad Afzal Advocate held brief for him. The bench accepted the contentions of the counsel for petitioner holding that “it appears that contentions of the counsel for petitioner appears to be correct whereas petitioner has made out a case seeking review of order dated 30.4.2024 which appears to have been passed on account of incorrect factual position intimated by the counsel for customs department. Admittedly the consignment is lying at the port whereas the request of the petitioner seeking amendment in the IGM in terms of section 45(2) read with Section 138 of the Customs Act  which has been decided  by the custom authorities without assigning  any reason. It has also come on record that subject consignment in respect of GD could not be filed on account of inaction on the part of the custom authorities who have not allowed change of name of the consignee in the IGM inspite of the fact that all the  relevant documents including original bill of lading, commercial invoice, certificate of origin, packing list etc available with the petitioner and there seems no legal impediment to allow  the amendment in IGM while changing the name and address of the consignee”

The bench allowed the review application and disposed of the petition with directions to the custom authorities to decide the application of the petitioner seeking amendment in the IGM in the aforesaid  terms and submit compliance within a period of two weeks. The bench also granted a request by the counsel for petitioner for issuance of delay detention certificate

As a matter of back ground the petition is filed through one Muhammad Ayuob as Attorney. The authorization is missing with the petition yet the petition was accepted and placed before a division bench of the High Court of Sindh. The issue of maintainability was not raised by the office which is a violation of SOP in the writ branch and amounts to circumventing the set procedure, even violation of Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan, issued in  recent judgement in revenue matters.

The petitioner China Textile seeks amendment in IGM (Import General Manifest) while consignments are shipped in the name of original consignee Messer’s Premium Textile Blanket Industry, Bara Bazar, Khyber.

Messer’s Premium Textile is facing two F.I.R No 03 of 2024 and 04 of 2024, lodged by Model Custom Collectorate on charge of abusing “Authorization” under Export Facilitation Scheme (EFS) under which it was granted permission to import Ladies and Gents Suiting, Curtains and other fabric for export of finished goods. The said unit was established in 119.2023 having a storage capacity of 6000 MT with production capacity of 10800 MT. It was alleged that said unit imported 117 consignments/filed GDs involving Rupees 1.6 billion in duty and taxes.

It is worth mentioning that two writ petitions filed by Noor Hawas Khan owner of Premium Textile & Blanket Industry bearing No WP 1107-P/2024 and WP 1240-P/2024 are pending before Peshawar High Court. As such the petition before SHC becomes redundant in view of Show Cause Notice issued by MCC Peshawar as well as litigation before Peshawar High Court. No one has yet appeared on behalf of Peshawar Collectorate nor submitted any reply which reflects no notice has been issued or got served by a stranger petitioner.

If the above order attains finality and  not challenged before the apex court, it will open a flood gate of amendments in IGM by a non importer, a third party and will form the basis for release of consignment imported by defaulter companies trough stranger companies.