ISLAMABAD (June 10 2005): The Central Board of Revenue (CBR) has empowered the Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation, Customs and Excise to “detain” any suspected vehicle on the assumption of non-payment of duties and taxes by the owner.
Previously, only powers of 'seizure' and 'confiscation' were available to the customs officials to frame a contravention case against the persons, who were unable to submit the documents showing payment of duty on the imported cars.
In certain cases, people have paid duty on the vehicles, but the documents were not available at the time of checking by the intelligence officials. This resulted in an uncertain situation because if the customs went for confiscation, the owner might produce the genuine documents at a later stage, but the procedure of seizure and subsequent confiscation could not be reversed until the Collectorate of Adjudication passed a release order. On the other hand, it is a real injustice to a person, who could produce the documents of the car few hours later for verification.
To resolve this issue, the CBR has introduced the concept of temporary “detention” so that the customs could give an opportunity to the general public to prove themselves clean. Once a non-duty paid vehicle was “detained”, the concerned person could submit the documents for release of the car, without going through the cumbersome procedure of 'confiscation' and later 'release order'.
Officials admitted that the proposed amendment might be used for blackmailing the owners of cars plying without requisite documents. The provision was available in the past, but it was withdrawn due to misuse.
They added that though the word “detain” has been defined in clause (kk) of section 2 of the Customs Act, 1969, yet no enabling provision/section to detain any suspected smuggled goods or vehicles is available in the Customs Act, 1969. It is proposed that the word “detention” may be added in section 17 to enable field formations to detain the suspected goods/vehicles before formal seizure for verification of import documents, chassis/engine numbers etc.