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January 3, 2019

PHC stays transfer of customs cases to accountability courts

National

January 3, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday stayed transfer of customs cases to accountability courts by suspending order of the Special Judge (Customs and Taxation) Central Peshawar regarding transfer of the customs cases against exporters and companies till next order of the court.

A single bench of the high court headed by Justice Syed Arshad Ali suspended the order of the Special Judge (Customs and Taxation) Central till next hearing of the case.

The court also issued a notice to chairman NAB and director general NAB Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, directing them to submit comments in the writ petition challenging transfer of customs cases to the NAB.

The bench issued the order in the writ petition filed by collector customs, Peshawar against the Special Judge (Customs and Taxation) Central decision to transfer the customs cases against the exporters to the NAB, which was termed illegal and against the law.

Barrister Mudassir Ameer, counsel for the collector customs Peshawar, submitted before the bench that the customs officials had charged exporters and customs agents including Muzzamil Shah, Anwar Ali and Shakirullah for export through fake documents, causing huge loss of millions of rupees to the national exchequer in the rebate of customs duty.

He said the Customs Peshawar had lodged FIRs against the exporters and customs agents between 2012 and 2015. He submitted that the trial against the accused in criminal charges was in final stage in the court of Special Judge (Customs and Taxation) Central.

The lawyer pointed out that the collector customs’ adjudication in Lahore had imposed customs duty of more than Rs40.6 million on the M/S FAS Tube Mills & Engineering Industries, Lahore. He said that the mill was also fined Rs20 million.

He said informed that the collector customs Lahore, imposed customs duty of over Rs80 million and fine of Rs2 million on the same mill in another case had. Similarly, he said, cases were also registered against Paramount Traders, Lahore. He said that the owner of the mill had closed it. The lawyer informed that the owner, Muzzamil Hussain Shah, is an absconder in the case and went abroad.

The lawyer said that the chairman NAB had first started an inquiry in the cases and then closed the inquiries in January 2018.

Interestingly, he submitted that the chairman NAB in September 2018 filed applications in the court of Special Judge (Customs and Taxation) Central, Peshawar for transferring the cases to an accountability court.

He informed that the customs judge allowed the applications for transferring the cases to accountability court. He argued that the cases are framed by the customs authorities and to try the cases under the Customs Act, 1969 is an exclusive jurisdiction of the Special Customs Judge.

He also cited some judgments in favour the case and submitted that transferring customs cases framed under Customs Act to NAB is illegal and without jurisdiction.

The court suspended the decision of the customs judge and stayed transfer of the cases to the accountability courts.