KARACHI: Law does not allow anyone to initiate proceedings against any person on the basis of presumption, the Customs Appellate Tribunal said while announcing a consolidated judgement accepting four similar appeals.
A single member bench of Customs Appellate Tribunal, headed by Tribunal Chairman Chaudhry Muhammad Tariq, said in the judgement that the language of Section 32 of the Customs Act 1969 was plain and simple which does not require a philosophical interpretation.
The tribunal added that Subsection 1 and Subsection 2 of Section 32 of the Customs Act 1969 do not attract where no allegation has been made that any forged document has been filed or the goods were released illegally after joining hands with the customs authorities. Meaning thereby that where the case is neither of a forgery nor of fraud, the same falls within the ambit of Section 32(3) of the Act which provides that the show-cause notice shall be issued within 180 days. The provisions of subsection 3 of Section 32 are mandatory in nature and the case in hand; the show-cause notice was issued after a lapse of four years. The delay in issuance of show cause notice is exceptional, inordinate and unexplained, the judgment says.
According to details, the case about import of sodium saccharin and its subsequent release by the Appraisement Collectorate in 2005 by appellants four Karachi based importers, Dua Trader, RL International, Kinzah Traders and Samba Corporation.
The counsel for the appellants Sardar Faisal Zafar pleaded that in 2009, through an audit observation, the Directorate of Post Clearance Audit (PCA) enhanced the valuation without any cogent evidence.
The directorate subsequently forwarded the case to the Appraisement Collectorate for adjudication in 2009 which issued a show-cause notice to the appellants in this case later the same year and an order-in-original a year later in 2010.
The appellants approached the Customs Appellate Tribunal and filed an appeal in 2010. The case was heard by a number of benches since 2014 and some benches also reserved the order, but no order was ever passed by any of the benches.