WHETHER CUSTOM APPELLATE TRIBUNAL CAN INITIATE CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS?

KARACHI: Hearing a Special Customs Reference Application (SCRA) filed by Collectorate of Custom, East, a custom appellate bench of High Court of Sindh suspended order dated 28.03.2024 passed by Custom Appellate Tribunal Karachi in Custom Appeal No. 357 of 2024.

Earlier, Advocate Sardar Zafar Hussain counsel for applicant collectorate submitted before the bench that Tribunal has initiated contempt proceedings against the applicant department. Notice for contempt have been issued while the Tribunal has no powers to initiate contempt proceedings under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003, submitted the counsel for applicant department.

The bench after hearing ordered issuance of notice to the respondents for 22.8.2024.

The respondent is Messer’s Supreme Roofing & Sheet Metal, Karachi and the case pertains to “Cold Rolled Non Grain Oriented Silicon Steel Sheets in Coils, Secondary Quality” and declared to be classifiable under PCT heading 7225.1900 chargeable to zero per cent custom duty. The relevant GD was selected for scrutiny during which it was found to be Non-alloy Steel Sheets classifiable under PCT Heading 7209.1610 attracting Custom duty @ 20 per cent, RD 5 per cent and anti-dumping duty @ 6.50 and thus importer has made a mis-declaration aimed at evading duty and taxes amounting to Rs 50,848,994.

The Custom Appellate Tribunal allowed the appeal on ground that Order in Original is illegal as it was time barred in terms of mandatory provisions of Section 179(3)of the Customs Act 1969. The customs was ordered to release the security deposited at the time of provisional release of goods.

The Collectorate of Custom,East filed the SCRA and during pendency, the importer/Appellant filed an application for contempt as order passed by the Custom Appellate Tribunal was not implemented.

A two member bench of Custom Appellate Tribunal comprising Mr Abdul Basit Choudhry (Member Technical-I) and Mr Abdul Jabbar Qureshi (Member Judicial-I) entertaining the contempt application have ordered the department to whether implement the orders or contempt proceedings will be initiated.

The SHC will now decide that whether the Custom Appellate Tribunal has the power to initiate the contempt proceedings.

It is matter of routine that importers or  parties having order of the tribunal in their favor files petitions before High Court for implementation of order/judgment passed by the Custom Appellate Tribunal.