ISLAMABAD: After struggle of twenty five years, Pakistan Customs has won the legal battle over confiscation of ten kilograms of smuggled gold worth tens of millions of rupees.
Supreme Court of Pakistan has given its verdict over the confiscation of the gold from Iranian citizen Ghulam Hussain Ramzan Ali in favour of Pakistan Customs while rejecting his appeal. The Iranian citizen’s stance regarding the confiscation was that he was a transit passenger and Pakistan Customs had no authority to conduct any search on him or his luggage.
A three member bench of Supreme Court comprising Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani and Justice Muhammad Athar Saeed heard the case.
Model Customs Collectorate of Preventive was party to the case.
The judgement of SCP’s three member bench stated that Pakistan Customs jurisdiction applies to all the passengers including transit passengers who stay temporarily on any Pakistani port or airport, during their journey.
The verdict established that Section 158 of Customs Act 1969 enables any customs officer who has reasonable doubt to conduct search on any person along with his possessions, who is entering or leaving Pakistan’s borders and doubted of travelling without legal document(s) of such possessions like gold. In such a case, i.e. failure to produce legal documents of possession of dutiable goods the customs officer can seize the goods.
The verdict further justified customs’ seizure by stating that there was advance information of smuggling in Ghulam Hussain’s case. Therefore, searching a transit passenger was a justifiable act on part of customs’ authorities.
Details of the case revealed that in 1987 an Iranian passenger Ghulam Hussain was travelling to Singapore via Karachi. Customs authorities received a tip-off that the person will try to smuggle gold during his transitory stay in Karachi. Ghulam Hussain tried to skip customs examination hall without checking while taking his luggage on way to a hotel. He did not inform customs authorities about the possession of gold.
On examination it was found out that he had 50 gold bars which were seized due to the reason that he did not have any permission letter issued by the federal government. He was issued show-cause notice according to Customs Act 1969 and Foreign Regulation Act 1947.
Ghulam Hussain took the stance that he was a transit passenger and it was out of jurisdiction of Pakistan Customs to seize it.
He was accused of smuggling the gold by customs authorities while the gold was confiscated since he brought the gold to Pakistan without any permission. Meanwhile, he was fined up to Rs 500,000.
Later in 1992, Ghulam Hussain’s appeal against the customs authorities’ confiscation was rejected by Member Judicial of Federal Board of Revenue who kept the Order in Original intact.