KARACHI – Federal Secretary Commerce Sualeh Faruqui has upheld the decisions of Director General Trade Organizations (DGTO) in its November 6th order regarding the cancellation of licences of Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Quetta, other eight Trade Associations of Balochistan.
Balochistan High Court in its order of Oct 2, contempt application directed that Secretary Ministry of Commerce should decide the appeals of Pakistan Transport Association, Ghee Exporter Association of Pakistan, Pakistan Scrap Association, Scrap Importer Association, Gas Heater Importer Association of Pakistan, All Pakistan Copper Exporter Association, All Pakistan Land Route Custom Agent Association and All Pakistan Glass Manufacturer Importers and Exporters Association by or before Nov 9, in accordance with law after hearing all concerned.
In pursuance of the order of Balochistan High Court hearing of appeals of four of trade organizations was scheduled on Nov 4, and hearing of other four trade organisations was scheduled on Nov 5. However, hearing of all the appeals was held on Nov 4, on the request made by the counsel for all the petitioners.
The background of the case is that all the eight trade organizations were granted licence by the DGTO in 2017 under the Trade Organizations Act (TCA), 2013
However, the licence of these trade organizations were cancelled by the office of DGTO in 2018 on the grounds that they had failed to meet the terms and conditions of the licence as stipulated in rule 6 of Trade Organizations Rules (TOR), 2013. During the hearing, the counsel for the trade organizations pointed out that the licence of the trade organisations were cancelled by the office of DGTO despite provision of all the requisite documents mentioned in the show cause notices issued by the DGTO. The representatives of the DGTO denied that the trade organizations had submitted all the required documents and the licences were cancelled due to the failure of these trade organisations to meet the terms and conditions of a licences as per rule 6 of ToR 2013. In order to adjudicate the competing claims, subsequently appeals of all trade organisations were considered individually.
The case of Gas Heater Importer Association of Pakistan was considered in the first instant. The Association was issued a show cause notice on March 13, 2018 under section 7 of TOA, 2013 stating that discrepancies were found in some of the documents provided by the Association, which relate to post licensing requirements of a trade organization under TOR 2013. Moreover, opportunity of hearing was also provided to the Association on February 27, 2018. However, the office of DGTO canceled the licence of the Association on April 04, 2020 mainly on the following grounds ;(i) Association had failed provide documents relating to opening of bank account in its name;(ii) Association had failed to provide minutes of the Executive Committee meeting in which the appointment of Secretary General approved;(iii) Association had provided some documents as provided by All Pakistan Glass Manufacturer Importer and Exporters Association, Pakistan Alloy Rim Association, Submersible Pump Importers Association of Pakistan and All Pakistan Copper Importer Exporter Association.
The Counsel for the Association pointed out that they had submitted the resolution of the HR committee regarding appointment of Secretary General along with notification of appointment of Secretary General Moreover, he argued that there is no requirements in the TOR, 2013 for submission of minutes of meeting of Executive Committee. During the hearing he also submitted a letter of Soneri Bank stating that the Association has been maintaining a bank account with them from November 22, 2019. He also clarified that the Association had not submitted same documents as provided by other Associations. The representatives of DGTO showed documents which were same as other Associations but they were submitted at the time of grant of licence and not after issuance of show cause notice.
Rule 6 of TOR 2013 stipulates that a trade organization has to maintain bank accounts in its name in a scheduled bank. It is evident that the Association had failed to open its bank account prior to cancellation of its licence as required under law. As rule 6/2 TOR, 2013 clearly stipulates that the violation of any
of the terms and conditions of the licence shall make the licence liable for cancellation, the decision of DGTO to cancel licence of Gas Heater importer Association of Pakistan is valid.
The cases of other Associations were also considered on the same pattern and found that they were not eligible for a licence.
After hearing the petitioners at length, examining the statements, official record and other documentary evidence, perusing the relevant provisions of law and rules and on the basis of facts and reasons, the decisions of the DGTO was to cancel the licences of Pakistan Transport Association, Ghee Exporter Association of Pakistan, Pakistan Scrap Association, Scrap Importer Association Gas Heater Importer Association of Pakistan, All Pakistan Copper Exporter Association. All Pakistan Land Route Custom Agent Association and All Pakistan Glass Manufacturer Importers and Exporters Association.
Regarding Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Quetta, it was informed that chamber president Sadia Baloch filed an appeal in BHC, under section 21(4) of the TOA 2013 against the order of the regulator of March 28, 2019. The High Court issued an order on October 7, 2020 which states that the appeal filed by appellant under section 21(4) of the Act is considered as an appeal under section 21(2) of the Act. The chamber was granted licence on Aug 31, 2010 which got renewed in 2013 for five years. Section 6(2) of TO Act, 2013 requires resubmission of all licence applications 90 days to expiry of licence. The cut-off date for submission of application for renewal of the licence was May 30, 2018. The Chamber did not apply for renewal of its licence for further five years within the time period. DGTO had cancelled the licence which was challenged in the BHC, which referred the case to Commerce Secretary for an informed decision. Secretary Commerce after hearing the party decided that the decision of DGTO was in accordance with the prevalent law.
Similarly Director General Trade Organisations (DGTO) also cancelled six trade bodies namely Pak Iran Joint Chamber, Chaghi Chamber of Commerce and Industry Musakhel Chamber of Commerce Industry, Qilla Saif ullah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pakistan Allowy Rim Association, Sumbersimble Pumps Importers Association and Pakistan Carbon Solvent importers associations due to non comply of Rule 6 of the trade organisations act in its November 5th order passed by the regulator under section 7 of the trade organisations act.