Karnataka High Court: S. Sujatha, J. while disposing of this writ petition gave liberty to the petitioners to avail statutory remedy available under the Customs Act, 1962.

In the instant case, the petitioners had challenged the order of the respondent, Joint Commissioner of Customs, Kempe Gowda International Airport as no opportunity of personal hearing was given as per Section 122-A of  Customs Act, 1962. The petitioners were held liable to pay penalty for aiding and abetting the smuggling of goods under Sections 112, 114-AA of the Act.

Gautam Shreedhar Bhardwaj, Counsel for the petitioner submitted that even after seeking a personal hearing in this matter, no opportunity was given by the respondent.

K.M. Shivayogiswamy, Counsel appearing for the Revenue rejected the submission of the petitioners and pointed out that no letter seeking such hearing was ever received by the Respondent. Even if such a request was made, the order was passed more than a month later than the letter was sent, the petitioners should have approached the authorities in the meantime. It was further pointed out that the statutory right of appeal cannot be circumvented in the guise of principles of natural justice.

After analyzing the above submissions, the Court observed that there was no letter sent by the petitioners. Except seeking personal hearing no other objections were raised. The time was not utilized fruitfully by the petitioners to avail the opportunity. Moreover, no writ petition is maintainable without exhausting the statutory remedy available under the Act.[Rafeek Nassar v. Jt. Commr. of Customs, Kempe Gowda International Airport, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 880, decided on 11-07-2019]

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