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SC orders to release 350 vehicles parked at Peshawar Dry Port

SC orders to release 350 vehicles parked at Peshawar Dry Port

PESHAWAR: The dealers of vehicles stuck at the Peshawar Dry Port heaved a sigh of relief as they got the permission to take the vehicles parked at the Railways property for years over evading customs duty while importing through Afghan border to avail amnesty during the tenure of Pakistan People’s Party government.

Sources told Customs Today that up to 350 vehicles were parked for over five years at the dry port as the customs authorities had refused to clear them because these were brought to be registered under an amnesty scheme for non-customs paid vehicles (NCP) in 2013.

The customs officials were of the opinion that the vehicles were imported to be registered under an amnesty scheme for the NCP vehicles announced by the previous Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led federal government (2008-2013) to generate revenue. The vehicles were imported in March 2013 and were parked at the Peshawar Dry Port since then. The officials had taken the stance that the imported vehicles did not qualify for the scheme and therefore were not registered.

Later, the dealers approached the federal ombudsman, who decided the case in their favour. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) then approached the appellate tribunal against the decision, but failed to get the case decided in its favor. The FBR later filed an appeal in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) against the decision, but it withdrew its appeal and directed the customs officials to clear the vehicles after recovery of fine from the importers.

Though the Customs officials had issued clearance certificates to the dealers, it led to a row between the Customs and Railways authorities over the payment of parking and storage charges.

A Railways official said that they had refused to issue gate passes to the vehicles and demanded the dealers to pay the parking and storage charges amounting to Rs 420 million. He said the dealers challenged the decision in the PHC which decided the case in their favour and directed the Railways authorities to hand over the vehicles to the importers without charging any parking fee.

The Railways authorities had then challenged the decision in the Supreme Court which upheld the verdict of the high court a few days ago. The process took more than a year to complete. It prolonged the hardships of dealers. After the court decision, the Railways started handing over the vehicles to importers.

A Railways official said that more than 232 vehicles were issued gate passes which were handed over to the dealers. An importer, who had imported 15 vehicles to benefit from the scheme, said that he was overjoyed by the decision.

Another importer, pleading anonymity as he regularly deals with the Railways authorities and to avoid any hardship in future dealings with them, said the Railways got nothing from the deal but its actions delayed the hand-over of the vehicles to the dealers. “We have heaved a sigh of relief as this issue has come to an end and we got possession of our vehicles,” he added.