ISLAMABAD          -       The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday suspended a show cause notice issued by the Federal Revenue Board (FBR) to Ambassador of Palestine to Pakistan Ahmed Jawad AA Rabei in the matter related to the import of a duty-exempted luxury vehicle and later, its sale to a local businessman.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the petition filed by the Palestinian envoy though his counsel Sikandar Naeem Qazi Advocate. After hearing the arguments of the petitioner’s counsel, the IHC directed the customs collector to return the confiscated vehicle to the businessman and refrain from taking any action against the ambassador till further hearing. Justice Athar also issued notices to the Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, FBR and customs officials and directed to submit their replies within two weeks.

Petitioner’s counsel adopted before the court that the show cause notice of the Customs Department is violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 read with The Diplomatic and Consular Privileges Act 1972.

The counsel contended that seizure of the petitioner’s vehicle without notice and without informing the FO Secretary is illegal. He prayed to the court to declare the petitioner and his property immune from the penal jurisdiction of the customs department in light of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 read with The Diplomatic and Consular Privileges Act 1972.

He also requested the court to declare illegal the actions of the customs department which he stated were undertaken without consultation of the Secretary Foreign Office. He further prayed to the court to set aside the impugned notice as it suffers from want of jurisdiction to the extent of the petitioner and his property. It was August 4 when the FBR issued a show cause notice to the Ambassador for allegedly importing a duty-exempted luxury vehicle and then selling it to a local businessman. 

The show-cause notice – issued by the FBR – told the recipients including businessman Basil Ahmed Affendi that the vehicle might be permanently confiscated and they might also face penalties of up to 10 times of the value of vehicle while this breach also carries punishment of up to three-year imprisonment.