Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): Ashok Jindal (Judicial Member) allowed an appeal which was filed against the impugned order wherein the penalty of Rs 50,000 had been imposed under Section 112 read with Section 114AA of the Customs Act, 1962.

The appellant was a customs broker and handled import consignment of the importer, namely, Inder International. The appellant had filed 4 Bills of entry declaring the goods as cold-rolled coil (non-alloy) alongwith invoices, test certificate and other relevant documents for clearance of the same. After filing bills of entry, the importer filed a declaration that the exporter had intimated to the appellant that the goods is of prime in nature. Thereafter, the goods were examined and found to be prime in nature, therefore, a case had been booked against the importer for mis-declaration of the goods to evade payment of duty on the said goods. It was alleged that the appellant has made a false declaration in respect of the said consignments.

The Counsel for the appellant, Mr Sudhir Malhotra submitted that the appellant had filed bills of entry as per the directions of the importer who had imported the said goods on high-seas sale basis the relevant documents, namely, invoices, high-seas agreement, test certificate were also filed by the appellant alongwith the bills of entry and the appellant had never examined the goods before filing the bills of entry, in that circumstances, it cannot be alleged that the appellant had knowingly mis-declared the goods on behalf of the importer. Therefore, there was no mens-rea of the appellant to have undue benefit of mis-declaration, in that circumstances, the penalty cannot be imposed on the appellant.

The Tribunal observed that no where it had been placed on record that the appellant was having prior knowledge of defective/secondary material. In fact, in the invoices, high-seas agreements, test certificates, it was mentioned that the material was of prime nature. It further held that the Revenue had further failed to establish the fact that the appellant about the doing omission of the act which would render the goods liable for confiscation.

The Tribunal while allowing the appeal held that act of filing the test certificate showed that the appellant had no mens rea and filed the documents being a bonafide facilitator and in view of the same no penalty was imposable upon the appellant, therefore, the penalty imposed on the appellant under Section 112 along with 114AA of the Customs Act, 1962 was set-aside.[MS Exim Services v. C.C. Ludhiana, 2021 SCC OnLine CESTAT 14, decided on 04-02-2021]


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Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): P.K. Choudhary (Judicial Member) partly allowed an appeal which was filed against the Order-in-Appeal whereby two separate appeals of the appellant against two Orders-in-Original had been dismissed. The basic issue recorded by the Commissioner (Appeals) was whether confiscation of goods and imposition of fine and penalty by the Lower Authority in absence of valid PSI certificate was maintainable.

It was contended on behalf of the appellant that the imported goods were declared as Tin Waste and Scrap (Light Melting Scrap) in accordance with the import documents provided by the foreign supplier. Only during 100% examination after import, a Chartered Engineer was appointed who opined on visual examination that the goods are Tin Plated Steel Scrap as steel predominates by weight. It was contended that prior to such inspection, it was not possible for the appellant to verify the actual nature of goods being supplied by the foreign supplier. The counsel for the appellant further submitted that there was neither any knowledge nor reason to believe on the part of the appellant herein w.r.t. the alleged mis-declaration of the goods so imported. He further submitted that the goods imported during January, 2013 were of no material value as on date and as such, the appellant was no more interested in getting release of the goods against the redemption fine as imposed by the Adjudicating Authority.

The Tribunal after perusing the records found that the goods declared as Tin Waste and Scrap (Light Melting Scrap) were on verification by the qualified Chartered Engineer certified as Tin Plated Steel Scrap since steel predominates by weight. The appellant had not asked for any re-test or alike at the relevant point of time. On the contrary the appellant/ importer had waived his right of show cause notice and/or hearing at the stage of adjudication and hence, the contention on behalf of the appellant before me that the certificate was issued by the Chartered Engineer on visual examination, cannot come to rescue of the appellant with regard to the proper description of the goods. The Tribunal reminded that importation was permitted only against Pre Shipment Inspection

Certificates and it was settled position of law that conditions for import, if not fulfilled, the importation was not permitted. The Tribunal further explained that when goods imported or exported without complying with the conditions subject to which such goods are permitted for export and import, the goods shall be rendered as ‘Prohibited Goods’.

The Tribunal while partly allowing the appeal explained that at the time of importation of the goods, admittedly, Pre Shipment Inspection Certificates were not available and the goods were wrongly described as scrap of tin instead of scrap of steel. The appellant could not even produce such certificates prior to adjudication and thus the order of confiscation of the imported goods was proper and correct under Section 111(d) of the Customs Act, 1962 and thus upheld on the other hand the law requires existence of mens rea and maintenance of balance of convenience prior to imposition of penalty upon any person and in the present case there was no existence of ingredient of section 112 of the Customs Act, 1962 nor any mens rea and hence, the imposition of penalty upon the appellant was bad in law and liable to be quashed.[Sanjay Kumar Agarwal v. Commr. Of Customs, 2020 SCC OnLine CESTAT 397 ; decided on 23-12-2020]


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Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): P. Venkata Subba Rao (Technical Member) allowed an appeal which was filed against the judgment of Commissioner (Appeals).

The appellant imported Benzothiazole through Visakhapatnam Port declaring an assessable value of US$ 3.5 per Kg being the transaction value. The Assistant Commissioner enhanced it to 4.3523 per Kg. The appellant paid the enhanced duty under protest and appealed to Commissioner (Appeals) who set aside the enhancement. Thereafter the appellant had filed an application for refund of the excess duty paid by them. The Assistant Commissioner rejected the refund claim and on appeal, the rejection of refund was upheld by Commissioner (Appeals).

The Assistant Commissioner had sanctioned the refund but had not paid interest. On appeal Commissioner (Appeals), by the impugned order, held that the liability to pay interest arises only if the refund was not made within three months from the date of receipt of the Tribunal’s Order. Since the refund had been paid within three months from the date of receipt of the Tribunal’s order no interest was payable.

The counsel for the appellant, M. Rajendran submitted that it was a well-settled principle of law that interest had to be paid if the refund was not sanctioned within three months from the date of refund application.

The Tribunal explained that Section 27A of the Customs Act, 1962 provided for the payment on interest on delayed refunds. The Tribunal further stated that if there was any delay in sanctioning the amount of refund if any available to the appellant as per the Tribunal’s Order he can make a claim of the same from the Department. The respondent had sanctioned the refund of Duty and Interest vide impugned order which was well within the time period of three months from the date of order of Appellate Tribunal. Hence the interest on delayed refund under the provisions of Section 27A of Customs Act, 1962 does not arise in the present case. The Tribunal allowed the appeal finding that the appellant was entitled to interest on the delayed refunds from three months from the date of receipt of refund application till the date of which the refund has actually been paid and orders the Department to pay the interest.[Andhra Organics Ltd. v. Commr. Of Central Tax, 2020 SCC OnLine CESTAT 328, decided on 10-11-2020]


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Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud, Indu Malhotra and KM Joseph, JJ has held that with the change in the manner of publishing gazette notifications from analog to digital, the precise time when the gazette is published in the electronic mode assumes significance and hence, in the scheme of the Customs Act, 1962, the Customs Tariff Act 1975 and the Bill of Entry (Electronic Integrated Declaration and Paperless Processing) Regulations 2018, the time at which the notification under Section 8A is published would indeed have relevance.

BACKGROUND

After the Pulwama terrorist attack on 14 February 2019, the Union Government, on 16 February 2019, issued a notification under Section 8A of the Customs Tariff Act 1975 introducing a tariff entry by which all goods originating in or exported from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan were subjected to an enhanced customs duty of 200%. The precise time at which the notification (Notification 5/2019) was uploaded on the e-Gazette was 20:46:58 hours.

The First respondent, a partnership firm based in Amritsar, engaged in the import of cement, imported a consignment of fourteen hundred bags of cement from Pakistan under an invoice dated 1 February 2019. Here’s the sequence of events that followed:

  • A truck crossed the ‘zero line’ on Saturday, 16 February 2019 with a Pakistan Custom’s Cargo Manifest bearing the time of 4:31 pm.
  • the goods entered Indian territory through the Attari border at Amritsar before 18:00 hours on 16 February 2019;
  • the importers had filed bills of entry under Section 46 of the Customs Act, before the close of working hours, seeking clearance of the goods for home consumption;
  • the value and description of the goods were declared;
  • the importers had self-assessed the goods in terms of the prevailing notifications and had filed the bills of entry in the EDI system;
  • the declarations were subject to verification by the customs department which did not dispute them and generated duty payment TR-6 challans;
  • since 16 February 2019 was a Saturday, the customs’ office was closed after 18:00 hours and was to open on Monday,18 February 2019;
  • some of the importers paid the duty online through TR-6 challans on 16 February 2019 while in the case of others, the payment of duty was in progress;
  • Notification 5/2019 was issued at 20:46:58 hours on 16 February 2019 following the Pulwama terrorist attack as a result of which the rate of duty on goods originating in Pakistan was enhanced to 200 per cent irrespective of the fact that some of the products had hitherto been exempt from customs duty; and
  • the customs authorities refused to release the goods on the basis of the bills of entry which were self-assessed at the pre-existing rate and proceeded to recall them and re-assess the goods to the enhanced rate of duty applicable under notification 5/2019.

SCHEME OF THE CUSTOMS ACT 1962 AND DETERMINATION OF THE RATE UNDER SECTION 15

  • Section 12 specifies that the rates of duty on goods imported and exported are those which are provided in the Customs Tariff Act or in any other law. Section 12 does not indicate when the duties under those enactments will come into being or force. Section 15 specifies the date with reference to which the rate of duty and tariff valuation of imported goods is determined. Clauses (a), (b) and (c) of sub-section (1) of section 15 contain distinct provisions which apply to:
    • goods entered for home consumption under Section 46;
    • goods cleared from a warehouse under Section 68; and
    • other goods.
  • In terms of the provisions of Section 15(1)(a), in the case of goods which are entered for home consumption under Section 46, the date of presentation of the bill of entry determines the rate of duty and tariff valuation.
  • Under Section 47(2)(a), the importer is obliged to pay the import duty on the date of the presentation of the bill of entry in the case of self-assessment. Regulation 4(2) of the Regulations of 2018 categorically stipulates when the presentation of the bill of entry is complete.
  • Once the bill of entry is deemed to have been presented in terms of Regulation 4(2) the rate and valuation in force stand crystalized under Section 15(1)(a).
  • Section 17(4) confers a power of re-assessment on the proper officer where it is found on verification, examination or testing of the goods or otherwise- that the self-assessment has not been done correctly.
  • The provisions of Section 15(1)(a) have to be read in conjunction with the provisions of Section 46 which are referred to in the former provision. Section 46 has incorporated a regime which encompasses the submission of the bill of entry for home consumption or warehousing in an electronic format, on the customs automated system in the manner which is prescribed.
  • The Bill of Entry (Electronic Integrated Declaration and Paperless Processing) Regulations 2018 stipulate the manner in which the bill of entry has to be presented. The deeming fiction in Regulation 4(2) of specifies when presentation of the bill of entry and ‘self-assessment’ are complete. The rate of duty stands crystallized under Section 15(1)(a) once the deeming fiction under Regulation 4(2) comes into existence.

Hence,

“the regulations have to be read together with the statutory provisions contained in Section 15(1)(a) and Section 46, while determining the rate of duty.”

‘DAY’ AND ‘DATE’ – INTERPRETATION OF

ASG K M Natraj submitted before the Court that because notification 5/2019 was issued on 16 February 2019, the court must regardless of the time at which it was uploaded on the e-Gazette treat it as being in existence with effect from midnight or 0000 hours on 16 February 2019.

The Court, however, refused to accept this submission and said.

“The consequence of this interpretation would be to do violence to the language of Section 8A(1) of the Customs Tariff Act, and to disregard the meaning, intent and purpose underlying the adoption of provisions in the Customs Act in regard to the electronic filing of the bill of entry and the completion of self-assessment.”

Noticing that the Regulation 4(2) of the 2018 Regulations provides for a deeming fiction in regard to the filing of the bill of entry and the completion of self-assessment, the Court said that it would do violence to the overall scheme of the statute to interpret the language of Section 15(1)(a) in the manner in which it is sought to be interpreted by the ASG.

EFFECT OF NOTIFICATIONS ISSUED IN E-GAZETTES

With the change in the manner of publishing gazette notifications from analog to digital, the precise time when the gazette is published in the electronic mode assumes significance. Notification 5/2019, which is akin to the exercise of delegated legislative power, under the emergency power to notify and revise tariff duty under Section 8A of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975, cannot operate retrospectively, unless authorized by statute.

It was, hence, held

“In the era of the electronic publication of gazette notifications and electronic filing of bills of entry, the revised rate of import duty under the Notification 5/2019 applies to bills of entry presented for home consumption after the notification was uploaded in the e-Gazette at 20:46:58 hours on 16 February 2019.”

Since, Notification 5/2019 was uploaded in the e-gazette at a specific time and date, it cannot apply to bills of entry which were presented on the customs automated EDI system prior to it, attracting the legal fiction set out in Regulation 4(2) of the 2018 Regulations.

RETROSPECTIVITY

The Court referred to a consistent line of precedents to carve out the distinction between the plenary power which is entrusted to Parliament and the state legislatures to enact legislation with both prospective and retrospective effect, and the power entrusted to a delegate of the legislature to frame subordinate legislation.

In Regional Transport Officer, Chittoor vs. Associated Transport Madras (P), (1980) 4 SCC 597, it was held that the fact that the rules had been framed in pursuance of a resolution passed by the legislature or that they have to be placed on the table of the legislative body would not lead to an inference that the legislature had authorized the framing of subordinate legislation with retrospective effect.

Hence, it was noticed

“This precisely is the principle which applies in construing whether the power which is conferred by Section 8A of the Customs Tariff Act is retrospective. The provisions of sub-sections (3) and (4) of Section 7, which are made applicable by sub-section (2) of Section 8A, are to ensure Parliamentary oversight. But that does not enable the Central Government to exercise the power under section 8A with retrospective effect.”

CONCLUSION

Dr. DY Chandrachud, J for himself and Indu Malhotra, J conclude:

In the present case the twin conditions of Section 15 stood determined prior to the issuance of Notification 5/2019 on 16 February 2019 at 20:46:58 hours. The rate of duty was determined by the presentation of the bills of entry for home consumption in the electronic form under Section 46. Self-assessment was on the basis of rate of duty which was in force on the date and at the time of presentation of the bills of entry for home consumption. This could not have been altered in the purported exercise of the power of re-assessment under Section 17 or at the time of the clearance of the goods for home consumption under Section 47. The subsequent publication of the notification bearing 5/2019 did not furnish a valid basis for re-assessment.

K.M. Joseph, J writing a separate but concurring opinion said

“It is one thing to say that the legislature may have the power to make a law with retrospective effect subject to limitations imposed by the Constitution and quite another to contend that delegated legislation would carry retrospective effect irrespective of power to make such a law conferred by the parent enactment on the delegate. More importantly the scheme of the Customs Act and the Tariff Act and the Regulation 4(2) of the 2018 Regulations rule out the tenability of applying the notification in the manner sought by the appellants.”

Hence, in the scheme of the Customs Act, the Tariff Act and the 2018 Regulations, the time at which the notification under Section 8A is published would indeed have relevance.

[Union of India v. G S Chatha Rice Mills, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 770, decided on 23.09.2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Customs, Excise and Services Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): A Division Bench of Anil Choudhary (Judicial Member) and C.L. Mahar (Technical Member), allowed an appeal filed by the appellant who was an employee, “H‟ Cardholder working with Customs House Agent — Commercial Clearing Agencies Pvt. Limited, at the relevant time. In the impugned order against the importer, it was held that they have mis-declared in the Bill of Entry and prohibited goods were ordered to be confiscated absolutely and other goods allowed to be redeemed on payment of fine, along with demand of custom duty and penalty.

On specific information that Brij Enterprises were indulging into the smuggling of goods by misdeclaration of description, nature and quantity of the goods. The customs officer detained one container which was imported from Singapore. As per the bill of entry filed through CHA – M/s Commercial Clearing Agencies Pvt. Limited, the declared goods were 144 air conditioners as per the bill of entry. However, on inspection, it was found to contain 65 air conditioners, 940 cylinders of “Refrigerant 22” gas (prohibited goods) and 315 Sony Play Stations. Counsel for the appellant, Ms Reena Rawat urged that no case of collusion or aiding and abetting is made out against the appellant – employee of the CHA company. At best, the appellant has been working as an employee and no case is made out against him, for making any personal gain over and above his salary. Further, the non-joining of the investigation by the Director of the CHA company speaks that the CHA company is responsible and not this appellant.

The Tribunal while allowing the appeal set aside the penalty imposed under Section 112 (a) of the Customs Act and stated that no case of aiding and abetting is made out against this appellant. Appellant as an employee of the CHA company was working as per the instructions given to him by his senior. There is no case made out of any abnormal gain by the appellant to indicate any collusion or abetment on his part with the importer of the consignment under dispute Shri Goyal and/or Shri Brijesh Mishra. [Rajesh Gaba v. Commr. of Customs, 2020 SCC OnLine CESTAT 164, decided on 10-09-2020]


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Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Pankaj Kumar Jaiswal and Rajnish Kumar, JJ. dismissed a PIL seeking to ensure that the provisions of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (CGST Act), Uttar Pradesh Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (UP GST Act) and Integrated Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (IGST Act) were implemented in proper manner qua the duty free shops.

The contention of the petitioner was that the respondent 3 was liable to pay IGST on the goods imported into the territory of India, which it was not doing. Though the Duty-Free Shops (DFS) operated by respondent 3 were in the State of Uttar Pradesh, the goods were sold to international passengers without charging the applicable taxes under CGST and SGST Acts. The petitioner further contended that the respondent was incorrectly permitted to claim a refund of an accumulated input tax credit of GST paid on service of renting of immovable property by AAI (Airports Authority of India) and procurement of domestic goods and services.

The petitioner submitted that a transaction must suffer GST the moment the supply of goods crossed the territorial waters of India. Therefore, the supply of imported goods to respondent 3 needed to be subjected to tax under Section 5 of the IGST Act. The petitioner further submitted that from the standpoint of Section 8 (1) of the IGST Act, the sale made to International passengers at the arrival terminal DFS of the respondent should have been considered as intra-state supply of goods and such sale should have attracted applicable CGST and SGST under Section 9(1) of the CGST Act and SGST Act and that the activity undertaken from the departure terminal DFS operated by the respondent was not an export of goods under GST Act as the essential ingredients to qualify for export were not being satisfied by the respondent.

The learned counsel for the respondent, Sheeran Mohiuddin Alavi, submitted that supply of goods to and from the DFS was before the clearance of imported goods for home consumption/export and the supply of goods from DFS at International Airports were considered as export of goods. He contended that as per Section 7(2) of the IGST Act, the supply of goods imported into the territory of India was considered as Inter-State Supply till they cross customs frontiers.

The Court held that the supply of imported goods to and from the DFS did not cross the customs frontier and hence these supplies were an inter-state supply in accordance to Section 7 (2) of the IGST Act. Consequently, the supply wasn’t liable to CGST and SGST under Section 9 of the CGST and SGST Act. It further observed that Section 7(2) read with proviso to Section 5(1) of the IGST Act stated that integrated tax on “goods imported into India” would be levied “at the point” when the duties of customs were levied on the said goods under Section 12 of the Customs Act, 1962 and at no other point. According to Section 12 of the Customs Act, duties of customs were levied on imported goods only when such goods were cleared for home consumption.

The Court relied on Kiran Spinning Mills v. Collector of Customs, (2000) 10 SCC 228 in which the Supreme Court had held, the taxable event occurs when the customs barriers are crossed. In the case of goods which are in the warehouse, the customs barriers would be crossed when they are sought to be taken out of the customs and brought to the mass of goods in the country.”

It was held that when the goods were imported from outside India and kept in a customs warehouse and exported therefrom, the stage for payment of customs duty under Customs Act, 1962 did not arise. Hence neither Custom duty nor IGST was payable.

In view of the above, the petition was dismissed and it was held that the exemption under GST on goods supplied to and from the DFS was rightly conferred and the claims of any accumulated unutilized ITC were refundable to respondent 3.[Atin Krishna v. Union of India, PIL Civil No. 12929 of 2019, decided on 03-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Rekha Palli, J. while disposing of a petition, waived of the sentence awarded to the petitioner on grounds of parity with the co-accused.

The petitioner was convicted by the Magistrate under Section 132 and 135(1) (a) of the Customs Act for evading customs duties payable at the airport on the import of certain household items. He was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for a period of 6 months along with a fine of Rs 50,000 on each count. The petitioner did not challenge his conviction but sought suspension of sentence. it was submitted that he had already paid the fine and undergone 2 months of imprisonment.

The High Court perused the record and noted that the petitioner was working as an authorised representative of the co-accused and smuggled certain goods by misdeclaring the same before customs authorities. On facts, it was proved that both the accused were equally culpable. It was also noted that the remaining sentence of the co-accused had already been waived off. The Court was of the opinion that the petitioner was entitled to the same benefits as that of the co-accused. Accordingly, his sentence was reduced to the period already undergone subject to the petitioner depositing an additional fine of Rs 25,000. [R.K. Anand v. Commr. of Customs,2018 SCC OnLine Del 12593, decided on 27-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Joymalya Bagchi and Ravi Krishan Kapur JJ., while setting aside the conviction and sentence imposed upon the appellant, stated that the evidence placed are too flimsy and contradictory to inspire confidence.

The factual matrix of the case was that the appellant was detained by the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) at the NSCBI Airport while he was proceeding towards immigration and subsequently on interrogation and suspicion of possession of contraband a complaint was filed under Sections 21(b) and 23(b) of the NDPS Act. An X-Ray was conducted of the abdomen of the appellant further on being detained under surveillance at the AIU office, 49 pieces of bullet shaped capsules were allegedly recovered from the appellant’s stool. The contents which were recovered consisted of ‘Hashish’.

The appellant had denied all the charges by stating that the procedure to recover contraband was in violation of Section 103 of the Customs Act, also no order of the Magistrate in terms of Section 103(6) of the mentioned Act was obtained.

Therefore, the Court denying the contentions of the respondents and giving due consideration to the circumstances and facts of the case, stated that the appellant was kept under surveillance at the AIU office until the time he defecated ejecting the contraband from his body. The said move by the authorities was said to be a violation of the statutory scheme but also an infringement of the fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, especially on no permission been taken from the magistrate for the same.

“Procedure entailing recovery of Narcotics/contraband from the body of the suspect requires invasion into the physical body of the suspect and an encroachment into his privacy such exercise should be in strict compliance with statutory safeguards”. [Mursaleen Mohammad v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine Cal 4885, dated 19-06-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Explaining the scope of the appellate power of the Supreme Court under Section 130E(b)of the Customs Act, 1962, the Bench of Ranjan Gogoi and Ashok Bhushan, JJ enumerated certain conditions that need to be fulfilled before admitting any case under the said provision.

The Conditions are as follows:

  • It is a sine qua non for the admission of the appeal before this Court under Section 130E(b) of the Act that the question raised or arising must have a direct and/or proximate nexus to the question of determination of the applicable rate of duty or to the determination of the value of the goods for the purposes of assessment of duty.
  • The question raised must involve a substantial question of law which has not been answered or, on which, there is a conflict of decisions necessitating a resolution.
  • If the tribunal, on consideration of the material and relevant facts, had arrived at a conclusion which is a possible conclusion, the same must be allowed to rest even if this Court is inclined to take another view of the matter.
  • The tribunal had acted in gross violation of the procedure or principles of natural justice occasioning a failure of justice.

Stating that the above-mentioned list should not be treated to be exhaustive, the Court said that Section 130E(b) of the Act provides for a direct appeal to the Supreme Court against an Order of the appellate tribunal, broadly speaking, on a question involving government revenue. This seems to be in view of the fact that the order that would be under appeal may go beyond the inter se dispute between the parties and effect upon a large number of assessees. The issue, in such an event, surely will be one of general/public importance.

Noticing that Chapter IV of Part V of the Constitution expressly limits the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to (i) a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution, (ii) a substantial question of law of general importance, the Court said that while construing the extent of the appellate jurisdiction to be exercised by the Supreme Court under a statutory enactment, the role of the Supreme Court as envisaged by the Constitution cannot altogether be lost sight of. Hence, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Section 130E(b) of the Act or the pari materia provisions of any other Statute would be in harmony with those contained in Chapter IV of Part V of the Constitution. [Steel Authority of India v. Designated Authority, Directorate General Of Anti-Dumping & Allied Duties, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 409, decided on 17.04.2017]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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]