1. The appeal No. CD (Bom) of 8/82, dated 3-11-82 of M/s. Agfa Gevaert India Ltd. against order of the Collector of Customs (Appeals) No.S/49-17/82 PA dated 30-4-82 came up for admission before me today in terms of proviso to Section 129-A(1) of the Customs Act. In view of the appellant's plea that the identical books had been released by the Customs House in the past, the appeal was admitted for hearing and decision, which was also done on the same day. During the course of the hearing the appellant's representative emphasised that an identical consignment of the same book had been released by the Customs House and in support of his statement he pointed the photo-copy of the invoice with the annexed appeal dated 3-11-82. The appellant's representative reiterated that the books contained photographs taken by famous photographers and were meant for professional photographers. Even in the past, the import of the same book had not been treated as prohibited on the grounds of obscenity under Notification No.99-Customs dated 8-6-55 as amended. He, therefore, requested that the order of confiscation of the books be set aside and the books may be allowed clearance. He also submitted a copy of the Government of India's order No. 465 of 1963 dated 23-3-63 to show that an identical consignment of books had been released by the Government of India, holding the same as not obscene. He requested that this additional evidence be taken on record. A copy of the book in question is not available with the appellants. The departmental representative has stated that the appeal to the Tribunal has become infructuous as the consignment of the obscence books had been destroyed by the Customs authorities after the appeal of M/s. Agfa Gevaert India Ltd. turned down by the order No. S/49-17/82 PA dated 30-4-82 of the Collector of Customs (Appeals). In view of this fact, the representative of the appellant was asked/what plea he had to make to the Tribunal. He has left the matter to the discretion of the Tribunal.
2. I have examined the contentions. In view of the fact that the consignment of the books in question has been destroyed by the Customs House, I refrain from going into the merits of the case. Since the evidence has been destroyed, I allow the appeal on technical grounds. I direct that the Collector of Customs, Bombay should pay a sum in Indian currency equivalent to the value of the consignment of D.M. 943.20 to the appellants. This Order will not debar the Customs authorities to come to any decision with regard to the future importation of the same book vis-a-vis the provisions of Notification No. 99-Customs, dated 8-6-55. The Collector of Customs Bombay should further ensure that in future the goods are not destroyed or disposed of in any other manner before the period for filing appeal to the Tribunal expires.