KARACHI: The Supreme Court taking notice of smuggling of arms, ammunition and other contraband items in the country through sea ports, has directed the Chief Collector of Customs, DG Coast Guards and DG Maritime Security Agency to hold a joint meeting and submit their report in this behalf.
The five-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, passed the interim order in Karachi law and order implementation case here on Friday.
The bench expressed dissatisfaction over the report submitted by the Chief Collector, Customs highlighting the difficulties being faced by his department in prevention of smuggling of arms, ammunition and other contraband items in the country.
The bench observed that smuggling of arms, ammunition takes place by making mis-declaration or with the connivance and assistance of Preventive staff.
The bench observed “On account of practical difficulties, it may not be possible only for the Customs Department to control it. The illegal trafficking of such arms and ammunition through ports or by means of ships or launches etc can be controlled by the Customs, Coast
Guards and Maritime Security Agency.”
It was stated in the interim order that “DG Rangers on our directions, explained that there are so many ways and means through which arms and ammunition are smuggled into the country. However, he also explained that in Karachi, it is also necessary that there should
be a verification of arms and ammunition dealers because without their facilitation or assistance, it is not possible to control the flow of arms and ammunition. However, we observe that in this behalf let the Provincial Government as well as the Federal Government take necessary steps.
He (DG Rangers) stated that in the past with the connivance of the then Minister of Shipping, a ship load of arms and ammunition was brought into Karachi and the whereabouts of such arms and ammunition has never been ascertained”.
“In order to further ascertain the correct position about the smuggling of arms and ammunition as well as evasion of the duty on different items at the Ports of Karachi and Bin Qasim, we are of the opinion that there must be a strict check and full duty should be
recovered because on account of evasion of custom duty, black money is also generated, which allegedly flows inside the country particularly in the city of Karachi and is used by the accused persons in order to promote their criminal activities throughout the country.
“In this behalf, we appoint Mr. Ramzan Bhatti, as a One Man Commission with the observation that he should ascertain:
(a) As to whether arms or ammunition are brought or smuggled through the sea and what are the possible measures and ways to be adopted to stop it.
(b) Who can be held responsible for the smuggling of the arms and ammunition in the country through ships, vessels as well as launches and what are the reasons for not preventing the smuggling of the same.
(c) As to whether the Customs officials posted at the Ports of Bin Qasim and Karachi manage to recover hundred percent customs duty and the revenues or there are certain mechanisms on the basis of which these duties are evaded, which cause loss to the public exchequer and ultimately such black money is used for illegal activities and promoting crimes in the country.
(d) To enquire into the allegation that a ship load of arms and ammunition was brought into Karachi with the connivance of the then Minister for Shipping, as stated by the DG Rangers and to propose what action should be taken against the persons responsible.
“He may submit his report within seven days. “The Chairman, FBR is directed to provide him all logistic facilities and also settle with him the fee of the Commission according to his stature.
“It is important to note that control of the smuggling of arms and ammunition is one of the most important aspects to control the law and order situation in Karachi as well as other parts of the country.
“After having gone through the report submitted by the learned Advocate General, we are of the opinion that as now both the Governments i.e. Federal and Provincial are on board, and have decided to provide protection to and secure the life, property and liberty of
the citizens, therefore, we have opted to exercise judicial self restraint and adjourn this case.
However, it is clarified that we expect the Governments both Federal and Provincial to implement the directions already given in the judgment handed down in the case of
Watan Party v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2011 SC 997).
“In the meanwhile, the learned Attorney General and the Advocate General shall inform the Court about the steps which have been taken by both the Governments in order to fulfill their commitment, as has been noted hereinabove.
“Before parting with the order, we may observe that the Provincial Government shall undertake the completion of surveillance system i.e. CCTV Cameras etc as early as possible and, if need be, they may seek the assistance and the help from the experts of other
concerned departments so that the system is completed, installed and activated before the next date of hearing.
“On behalf of Frontier Constabulary, a report has also been submitted wherein details have been mentioned for operational assistance being provided by the FC to Sindh Police. The same be placed on record for further consideration on the next date of
The bench adjourned the hearing of the case till October 18.