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Customs I&I field staff involved in violation of sections 25, 32: Advocate Mehwish Kakakheil

Customs I&I field staff involved in violation of sections 25, 32: Advocate Mehwish Kakakheil

PESHAWAR: Some members of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation (I&I) field staff are allegedly involved in violation of sections 25 and 32 of the Customs Act during the checking of the imported consignments.

This was stated by Member Peshawar Tax Bar Association Advocate Mehwish Kakakheil while talking to Customs Today.

She said there are a number of sections in the Customs Act 1969 which the field staff bypasses while inspecting the consignments. In several cases, it is found that a few inspectors of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation misused their powers and seized goods which were later returned to the owners by courts, she said.

“The Customs Act allows inspectors to check unregistered, banned or smuggled goods, but they are not authorized to seize goods cleared by customs staff at ports,” she added.

Referring to a case, she said that a petition was filed against seizing of goods, but the customs authorities failed to respond to the court orders despite the lapse of one month, adding that in another case, a petitioner was issued a show cause notice which he challenged in the court. However, the department failed to give a satisfactory reply which made the judges furious and they ordered the authorities to return the goods to the petitioner.

She said that the Supreme Court was of the view that imposition of service charge under S. 18(b) of the act towards pre-shipment inspection was ultra vires of powers of the Federal Legislature. PLJ 2000 SC 447.

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.