Saturday September 18, 2021

Ex-senator moves SHC against FIA inquiry into jet fuel imports for Nato

Ex-senator moves SHC against FIA inquiry into jet fuel imports for Nato

A former senator from a tribal area has filed a petition in the Sindh High Court against the initiation of an inquiry by the Federal Investigation Agency with regard to the import of jet fuel on behalf of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (Nato) support and procurement agency and misuse of customs general orders by various companies.

Taj Mohammad Afridi, a businessman who remained a senator till March 2021, submitted in the petition that a malicious campaign had been initiated against him and his companies after the award of a contract for the supply of jet fuel to the support and procurement agency. He said a complaint was being instigated by unknown persons at behest of his business competitors, political rivals and people who were working against the interest of the country.

He submitted that it was an admitted position that the Federal Bureau of Revenue, custom authorities, the office of the federal ombudsman and the ministry of petroleum had all been approached by the ghost complainant through derogatory emails against him, but none of the authorities had found anything incriminating against the petitioner and his companies.

He submitted that the FIA, on the allegation of the ghost complaint, had taken cognizance and issued notices to the collector customs and the PSO, respectively, inquiring into details about the petitioner’s companies despite the fact that the allegation on the ghost complaint had already been dealt with by the competent authority of customs and the same had been disregarded.

He said the reopening of the inquiry based on the same allegation by the FIA was completely arbitrary and illegal; even otherwise, it must be highlighted that the allegations of the complainant were misconceived in law and no illegality had been committed by the petitioners. The former senator submitted that his company imported jet fuel for transit and supplied it to Nato without any modification; thus, there were no taxes or duties applicable on the same as per the Customs Act.

He challenged the FIA jurisdiction to take cognizance of or conduct an inquiry, arguing that custom authorities were relevant authorities since the product in question had landed in Pakistan and directly transited to Afghanistan under the arrangements made with US officials and the Pakistan government.

The petitioner submitted that he also approached the FIA to take action against persons who were causing damage to the petitioner and the image of Pakistan, but the FIA failed to act on his applications.

The court was requested to declare the FIA inquiry with regard to the import of jet fuel on behalf of Nato and misuse of custom general orders by various companies as unlawful and to direct the FIA to take action on the petitioner’s application against malicious campaign against him.