SC forms committee to take action against illegal sale of DTH technology

Islamabad: The Supreme Court has asked Member Customs Zahid Khokhar to identify the source of smuggling of Direct to Home (DTH) in Pakistani market.

The apex court also constituted a two-member committee comprising Member Customs and Additional Director FIA to probe and take action against the illegal sale of Indian DTH technology boxes in Pakistan in the grey trafficking case.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar heard the case in Islamabad on Thursday. The apex court directed the committee to submit its reply within ten days.

In his remarks during the proceedings, Chief Justice Mian Saquib Nasar regretted that Pakistan is losing its money through this very smuggling.

The Supreme Court has also ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to present 20 individuals having properties outside Pakistan.

The SC in May overturned the 2016 judgment of the Lahore High Court that ruled that Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had violated the rules of its own ordinance as it auctioned Direct-to-Home (DTH).

DTH is a digital box that gives customers channels permitted to be aired in the country without a cable connection.

Pemra had auctioned three DTH programming licences in November, 2016. The auction was held after the SC allowed the authority to proceed with the auction, but barred it from awarding the contract till the final determination of the case by the LHC.

During the hearing of a case regarding the assets owned by Pakistanis outside the country, FIA submitted its initial report and its Director General Bashir Memon informed the court that 150 people have admitted that they own foreign properties.

DG FIA told the bench that 374 people have said that they have declared their foreign properties. ‘150 people recorded their statements before FIA’s investigation officer. Out of them, 69 said they mentioned the properties in their tax returns while 82 said the properties did not belong to them,’ he added.

The chief justice then asked Memon as to when his department will conduct investigations, saying that the authority should present 20 individuals on the next hearing. ”We want information about assets in London, Dubai and other countries,” Justice Nisar remarked.

On the occasion, the attorney general informed the bench that there are 894 people who own foreign properties. Addressing the attorney general, the chief justice wondered what was the government waiting for as the people had been identified.

However, the attorney general informed the bench that they cannot be arrested as per the law. Justice Nisar also asked the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa as what can be done regarding this matter. ”We can wrap up the case and then the government can look into it,” he remarked. The SBP governor added that 150 people have admitted that they own foreign properties but have not declared them.

”We can summon 10 people from these 150,” the chief justice remarked and adjourned the hearing till November 1. FIA submitted its initial report on foreign properties stating that 35 politicians and their associates own properties in Dubai. The FIA initiated investigations against 3,570 Pakistanis who own properties worth Rs1,015 billion in Dubai, the report added.