Notice to be given within six months for goods seized under Customs Act

Delhi High Court: While allowing a petition seeking return of a bracelet seized by the Custom Officers, the Single Bench of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. held that where goods are seized under Section 110 of the Customs Act, 1962 and no notice thereof is given under Section 124(a) within six months of the seizure, the goods are liable to be returned to the person from whose possession they were seized.
In the instant case, the petitioner, on arriving from Dubai, was intercepted at the airport by the Custom authorities. A gold bracelet, owned by him, was seized on the ground that it was imported from Dubai. Petitioner contended that since the Custom Authorities have not issued any notice within six months of the seizure, as mandated by Section 110(2), they ought to return the bracelet. Respondents, however, contended that the bracelet had not been seized, but merely been detained for clearance. Therefore, Section 110(2) had no applicability as the said section applies only in cases of seizure.
The Court noted that there is no provision for detention of goods in the Act, and the Custom Department, under the garb of detention, could not avoid the consequences flowing from seizure of goods. Since the petitioner’s bracelet had been under Custom Department’s seizure for nearly one year and ten months, and no show-cause notice under Section 124(a) of the Act had been issued, the bracelet was liable to be returned to the petitioner. The Court also clarified that the release of the bracelet would not debar the respondents from taking appropriate action in accordance with law. [Jitendra Kumar Sachdeva v. Union of India, Writ Petition No. 1492 of 2016, decided on December 08, 2016]

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