Law minister says hoarders, smugglers taking advantage of coronavirus outbreak to face ‘severe punishment’

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Federal Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Farogh Naseem addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday. — Geo News

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem on Sunday said that smuggling or hoarding essential items will be considered a criminal offence and those found guilty would face severe punishment for their crimes.

“No one would be allowed to take advantage of the situation in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the country,” he vowed.

His remarks came as he announced the promulgation of an ordinance against the hoarding of essential commodities amid the pandemic.

The new ordinance contains a three-year sentence, summary trial and confiscation of the material if one is found guilty of hoarding wheat, sugar, flour, ghee, sanitisers, face masks and other essential items.

The minister said that the government had also prepared an Anti-Smuggling Ordinance to stop the smuggling of dollars and essential commodities like wheat and sugar through undeclared routes.

The anti-smuggling ordinance has been sent to the office of the prime minister for vetting and is likely to be promulgated by Monday or Tuesday, he said.

He said that although the customs department would be a focal department to stop this practice, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) would be authorised to dedicate powers to any state institution like Intelligence Bureau (IB), Inter Services Intelligence Bureau (ISI), and Military Intelligence (MI), to seek their assistance against smuggling.

The federal minister said that district administrations had also been instructed to share information pertaining to any act of smuggling or hoarding with relevant institutions so prompt action may be taken against such activities.

“A copy of this information would also be sent to secretary law and justice who will view the actions taken by the department concerned,” he said.

Stern action, he said, would also be taken against officers for any negligence in the matter.

The minister said that the ordinance is subject to revision in extraordinary situations, if necessary.

The minister said that a summary trial against the culprits would be initiated in accordance with the law, adding that the judges for the summary trial would be appointed with the consultation of the chief justice of Pakistan

Naseem said that the law ministry had resolved a total of 60,649 cases over 20 months which was a clearance ratio of 99%.

His ministry had been working “round the clock over the last several days” to prepare ordinances against hoarding and smuggling, he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice Mulaeka Bokhari said that these laws were the manifestation of the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan and fulfilment of the PTI’s manifesto.

She said the anti-hoarding and anti-smuggling laws would provide relief to the common people and safeguard their interests.





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