Pakistan News

Stay against FBR’s notice to Palestinian embassy extended

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to decide the matter related to a vehicle of the Palestinian embassy in accordance with the advice of the foreign ministry.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah extended the stay order against the show-cause notice issued to the Palestine ambassador by the FBR till October 27.

Ambassador Ahmed Jawad A.A. Rabei has challenged the seizure of his vehicle imported under diplomatic immunity. He also challenged the show-cause notice issued to him by the FBR.

According to the show-cause notice, a “BMW X7 Jeep, Model-2019, registration No QN-740-ICT… was imported under diplomatic immunity by Mr Ahmed Jawad A.A. Rabei, Ambassador, Embassy of the State of Palestine, Islamabad, under exemption certificate… issued by Custom Collectorate (Port Qasim), Karachi. The same disposed of illegally in the breach of diplomatic immunity and in violation of Sections 15, 16, 19, 21, 32 and 178 of the Customs Act, 1969”.

The notice said the possessor of the vehicle, Basil Ahmed Affendi, also failed to produce any import document of the vehicle despite issuance of the notice.

The court inquired from the customs department as to whether they were aware of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Justice Minallah suggested that the FBR should issue a circular for proper training of its officers.

He warned the officials against excessive use of powers, saying it would have certain repercussions.

Advocate Sikandar Naeem Qazi, the counsel for Mr Rabei, informed the court that the ambassador enjoyed diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention but the FBR on August 4 served on him a show-cause notice for selling the vehicle imported under immunity.

The FBR’s show-cause notice of August 4, also served on businessman Basil Ahmed Affendi, said the vehicle might be permanently confiscated and they might also face penalties of up to 10 times of the value of the vehicle.

“The Ambassador, Embassy of the State of Palestine, Islamabad, and Basil Ahmed Affendi are called upon to show cause as to why the seized vehicle should not be confiscated and why penal action should not be taken against them under section 156 for violations of the Customs Act,” the notice said.

The FBR has already issued a corrigendum, saying the seized vehicle belonged to the embassy of Palestine, instead of Ambassador Rabei.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2020

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