Delhi High Court: Chandra Dhari Singh, J., while setting aside the order of lower Court in a case concerning Customs Act, laid down five reasons why the impugned order was bad in law.
A petition was filed for quashing the order passed by the lower Court.
The respondent i.e. Director of Revenue Intelligence, Head Quarter had filed a criminal complaint case under Sections 132 and 135 (1)(a) of the Customs Act, 1962 before the Trial Court stating that the intelligence reports were received that M/s Elgin Electronics (“the firm”), of which petitioner 1 was the proprietor and petitioner was the Manager were in the business of importing public address systems, sound systems for auditorium etc. without payment of customs duty.
In view of the above-said search was conducted. Later, the goods detained were seized on the reasonable belief that the same had been imported without payment of customs duty.
Further, it was alleged that documents pertaining to retail Invoices raised by the firm were fake and the statement of one of the partners was recorded in which he stated that his firm had executed a project for M/s GAIL for a total amount of Rs 7.46 Crores, out of which work pertaining to audio visual system for Rs 1 crore was outsourced to the firm.
Adding to the above, a retail invoice, recovered from one of the premises of the accused persons, was shown to Ramesh Gupta regarding the sale of mobile phones for Rs 62,25,305/- which was stated to be fake.
Trial Court had issued summons to the accused persons dispensing with the examination of the complainant, who was a public servant at the pre-summoning stage. The Revisional Court had dismissed the criminal revisions, hence the instant petition under Section 482 CrPC was preferred.
Analysis and Decision
In the present case, there was nothing to show that the petitioner made any false declaration or prepared false documents and therefore, he was not liable to be prosecuted under Section 132 of the Act.
High Court found that the Lower Courts did not consider that at the stage of Section 200 CrPC, the exemption could not be given to a public servant who had filed a case in his official capacity, but such exemption was not available with the other witnesses.
Since respondent 1 did not examine even the panch witnesses to prove its case, the Court below had summoned the petitioner without any material on record for prima facie satisfaction.
Why the impugned order was bad in law?
- The prosecution of the petitioner cannot be initiated under Section 135(1)(a) of the Act as valuation of the goods is less than Rs 1 Crore;
- The respondent-department has not examined any witness to prove its case against the petitioner;
- The complaint was admittedly barred by limitation.
- The sanction by the Additional Director for prosecution is invalid and void-ab-initio.
- Court below while passing the summoning order has not assigned any reason for summoning the petitioner.
Hence, the summoning order passed by CMM and ASJ was set aside and criminal complaints filed under Sections 132 and 135 (1)((a) of the Customs Act were quashed. [Suresh Chandra Gupta, State of Govt of NCT of Delhi, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 1561, decided on 25-5-2022]
Advocates before the Court:
For the Petitioners:
Mukesh Anand, Advocate
For the Respondents:
Raghuvinder Varma, APP for State
Satish Aggarwala, Sr. PP for R-2