KARACHI: Importers are facing problems at the hands of corrupt officials in Customs Intelligence who illegally stop consignments for bribe during their transportation from Karachi ports to other cities of the country.
Talking to Customs Today, renowned advocate Zain Jatoe said that some officials of the Customs Intelligence and Investigations create troubles for importers and truck drivers during transportation of consignments to different cities. “It is true the field staff misuses its authority and stops consignments in violation of SRO 486,” he added.
He said in Custom Act 1969, the Customs Intelligence and Investigations did not have powers of Sections 25 and 32-A. “The use of this authority is totally wrong,” he said, adding that the court has already declared that the Customs Intelligence should never use Sections 25 and 32-A.
Answering a question, he said: “It is 100 percent true that the court ordered several times that the Customs Intelligence should not exceed to its powers, but the staff does not care and keeps misusing its powers. Several complaints have been submitted against the Customs Intelligence Department for the last few months but no action has been taken against the corrupt officials.”
Advocate Faisal Ali Siddique also commented on the corruption of Customs Intelligence officers. He said it was clearly written in the Customs Act, 1969 that Sections 32 and 25 should not be implemented by Customs Intelligence.
Some officers stop the consignments in their way to Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and others cities and demand bribe. Some truck drivers give money easily but some drivers argued about it, Siddique said, adding that bribery is very common in the Customs Intelligence,
He said that the higher authorities did not take notice of this situation, adding that sometime the officials threaten to register an FIR and demand bribe for clearance of consignments.
The Custom officers can check the consignment but they should not misuse their authority, he said, adding that this blackmailing has become a routine matter. He said that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Tariq Pasha should take action against corrupt officials.
Earlier, lawyer Esmat Mehdi said the Customs Intelligence does not have any authority except mentioned in SRO 486. She said some corrupt Customs Intelligence officers are harassing the importers, which is totally illegal.
About this situation, Noor Khan Niaz, President of the Karachi Goods Carrier Association, said that a few black sheep in Customs Intelligence, who are allegedly involved in malpractices, are defaming the Pakistan Customs.
It is worth mentioning that even the superior courts have repeatedly held that the Customs Directorate General of Intelligence have no mandate to examine, assess or seize goods that are already cleared by the appropriate appraisement staff. They have emphatically held that the said Directorate does not have powers to exercise or invoke Section 25 or Section 32 (mis-declaration) of Customs Act, 1969. [Refer The Honorable High Court Judgments 2005 P T D 23 (Annex- B) and 2004 P T D 2994 (Annex – C)].
Sources added that the honorable superior courts have repeatedly held that the domain of the Customs Directorate of Intelligence is to stop smuggling. When certain staffers are busy in their illegal activities of examination and assessments of already cleared goods, they lose their focus on smuggling activities; rather even they allow smuggled goods to transfer from place to place for bribe. Thus, the country suffers trillions of rupees losses in smuggling and corruption at the hands of such few notorious staff of the Customs Directorate of Intelligence.
Sources revealed that DIT Sukkur recently seized goods which were lawfully cleared from port by appraisement staff. However, one notorious Inspector of DIT Liaqat Ali stopped a truck on road and on refusal to fulfill his illegal demands by the importer; he made out a case of mis-declaration and seized the goods along with vehicle illegally.