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LAHORE: Custom authorities are allegedly involved in seizing vehicles used in smuggling of foreign origin cloth without issuing show cause notices and providing opportunity of hearing to the owners of vehicles, said sources.

Instead, issuing show cause notice in any such situation incorporates the entire episode of raid conducted in order to secure the alleged smuggled goods and confiscation of vehicles in question.

It is simply stated in the show cause notices that both the smuggled goods and vehicles are being confiscated under the relevant provisions of the customs law, they added. However, no show cause notice is issued to the actual owners of such vehicles and the department proceeds with legal action despite showing their names as owners of vehicles in the inventory memo.

According to sources, the customs law does not permit imposition of any penalty unless show cause notice is served to the owner of the confiscated vehicles. It is duty of the department to inform in writing of the grounds on which it is proposed to confiscate the goods or to impose penalty. Furthermore, the department should also give an opportunity of making a representation in writing within such reasonable time specified in the show cause notice, they added.

In most of the cases, they said, the Customs officials prefer to issue show cause notice to the drivers of the seized vehicles and proceed with further punitive action against the actual owners of vehicles.

The sources have pointed out that a show cause notice is required to provide a reasonable opportunity to defend the allegations and to explain as to why any penal action should not be taken against the defender. In other words, the objective of the process is to provide a fair chance to respond to the allegations and explain one’s position within the stipulated time frame. It also reflects a high level course of action to ensure impartiality, justness and rectitude to the person in receipt of the notice with an opportunity to explain his stance.

The sources said the crook elements in the department prefer to bargain with the actual owners by violating the law and exploit the situation to earn ill- gotten money. Those who do not challenge the illegality pay heavy cost to get their vehicles released from the clutches of the department, they added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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