KARACHI: Like all big companies, every single Collectorate of Pakistan Customs also has a Law Department, or a Law Branch. These law branches play an important role in ensuring the presence and representation of the Pakistan Customs before courts. In fact, thousands of Customs-related cases are pending for hearing before the Sindh High Court.
The officer of Pakistan Customs designated to represent a Collectorate or a Directorate of Pakistan Customs before a court of law, called Law Officer, is responsible to ensure representation before a court of law. He is also responsible for ensuring that all the directions and orders of the court are followed. He also prepares the rebuttals after consulting the relevant colleagues that has to do anything with a case.
In short, a Law Officer appears before courts in day-to-day hearings. The fact that most of the Customs-related cases involve revenue-focused litigation makes the role of Law Branches and Law Officers all the more important for the Pakistan Customs.
Despite the crucial role that Law Branches play to help recover hundreds of millions of rupees stuck-up in revenue, like all other Customs departments they too are reeling from acute shortage of not only staff but also the expertise and the much needed dedication.
“There are two other Appraising Officers besides myself but I am the only one who appear at Sindh High Court to pursue cases,” lamented a Law Officer while talking to Customs Today.” The two other colleagues of mine hardly ever share the burden of work with me because like me they hold another charge of Appraiser within the Appraisement Group”, he added.
“This is a fulltime job itself that the staff at a Law Branch is required to do in addition to their primary responsibilities,” he added. “All Law Branches are expected to perform their job at half the sanctioned strength which comprises a Principal Appraiser, three Appraisers and two clerks. The situation becomes even worse because the additional responsibilities deprive these staff members any sense of dedication.”
“It is imperative not only to ensure that Law Branches have sanctioned staff strength but also that have staff with professional expertise and this could only be ensured by making merit the most important criteria for induction or else the performance of Law Branches would never be improved,” he held.