FIA Given Jurisdiction to Arrest Money Traders Operating W/o Licenses

Written by  Published by:Pakistan Views Wednesday, 24 February 2016 18:14
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday declared Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) closure of certain currency dealers in the city as legal and allowed it to take further action agains those running businesses without licenses. The case was then disposed of by the court.

The division bench of justices Yahya Afridi and Roohul Amin was hearing a writ filed by Sarafa Currency Association which challenged the FIA’s action of sealing their shops at Chowk Yadgar.

Justice Yahya Afridi also dismissed interim relief given to the dealers without licences to reopen their shops. However, the bench directed the FIA not to harass currency traders who were conducting business within the remit of the law.

Last month, an FIA team, backed by police, raided the open currency market in Chowk Yadgar, Peshawar and sealed 40 shops and arrested 60 money changers.

An official of FIA told media at the time there were 300 money changers in the market and only four were legally registered. He alleged the rest were involved in illegal money laundering and were transferring funds to Islamic State in Afghanistan.

In their petition, the money dealers claimed they were dealing in Afghan currency for decades as it was a source of income for hundreds of families. They requested nullification of the FIA action and asked their shops be reopened.

FIA Legal Assistant Director Javed Khan told the bench the dealers should get a license from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to run the currency business under the laws for which Rs200 million must first be deposited at the bank.

Is Afghani a foreign currency?

“Dealers at Chowk Yadgar, who are dealing in foreign currency, are [not legal]. The Afghan currency is also a foreign currency due to which the shops were sealed,” he said.

The bench, after hearing the arguments, directed FIA not to harass dealers who legitimately conduct their business and disposed of the case. The division bench provided interim relief for those with shops who have licenses, by unsealing them.

Abdul Sattar Khan, counsel representing the petitioners, argued sealing around 300 shops violated Article 18 of the Constitution. He added shops were also sealed in 1999 and reopened by the Peshawar DC through an order. At the previous hearing, the bench ordered the reopening of the markets.

Employees restored

The same bench ordered the restoration of nine employees of Town Council-III, Peshawar on grounds that no reasons were provided in the termination order.

The bench was hearing a writ filed by Muhammad Ilyas and other employees through their counsel Asif Khan Yousafzai.

The lawyer said the petitioners were recruited as Class-IV employees in 2013 and were dismissed in 2014 through a notification. The authorities claimed the recruitment was not made on merit, but no show-cause notice was issued to the employees nor was the relevant law followed.

 

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