KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed customs officials to send sample of imported consignments comprising juices, coffee and edible sauces to PCSIR or its accredited laboratory for testing purpose to confirm as to whether ingredients of such products are halal or otherwise, on a petition filed by Imtiaz Hussain, proprietor of Imtiaz Provision Store seeking release order of above mentioned goods.
On 17 February 2020, a two-member bench, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi heard the matter and also issued notices to the customs department and sought comments for next date of hearing.
After the hearing, court observed in its order that “request of the petitioner for sending random samples of subject consignments to PCSIR or its accredited laboratory for testing purpose to confirm as to whether ingredients of such products are halal or otherwise, shall be considered in accordance with law and compliance be submitted on next date of hearing”.
During the hearing, Senior Advocate Zain Ali Jatoi appeared on behalf of importer and argued that petitioner has imported juices, coffee and edible sauces fro, a Muslim country i.e UAE, which are restricted and regulated as per appendix-B of the import policy order, 2016, however, as per the amendment introduced in serial no 13 of appendix-B through SROs 237(I)2019 dated 19/02/2019 and 438(I) 2019 dated 09/04/2019, further restrictions have been imposed, according to which every such edible products shall have at-least 50 percent of the shelf life, details of ingredients of the product printed in Urdu and English languages on the consumer packaging along with logo of halal certification.
However, according to the senior counsel since the petitioner does not import such edible products in bulk, therefore, the exporting country does not make such changes to the petitioner to comply with such requirements, which is causing financial constraints to the petitioner, who is not in a position to get such requirements fulfilled, therefore, cannot compete with big commercial imports of such edible products, and such requirements cannot be enforce in respect of a Muslim exporting country, therefore, there is no likelihood that ingredients of such edible products may contain any haram element, whereas, petitioner is willing to get a random sample be drawn from such products for the purpose of laboratory testing from PCSIR or any other credible authorized laboratory to ensure as to whether ingredients of such products are halal or otherwise.
Counsel said that the consignment is laying at the port, whereas, customs authorities are not allowing release of the same due to aforementioned amendment made at serial no 13 of appendix-B of import policy order 2016, which is discriminatory in nature and amounts to put unreasonable restrictions on the lawful business activities of the petitioner.
Citing ministry of commerce, chairman FBR, collector of Customs Appraisement East and deputy collector of Customs Appraisement East as respondents, petitioner pleaded the court to direct to customs officials to release his imported goods immediately.