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Shri S.P. Rateja Vs. Collector of Customs - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtCustoms Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal CESTAT Delhi
Decided On
Reported in(1988)(35)ELT727TriDel
AppellantShri S.P. Rateja
RespondentCollector of Customs
Excerpt:
.....goods which were cleared at the time of his arrival.4. the short question before us is whether a missing package, later found amongst the unclaimed packages, and opened in the absence of the owner would fasten any liability on the passenger that he had not declared the content of the missing box at the time of his arrival. in this case, the customs authorities had not issued any notice to the appellant requiring him to come and get his missing box cleared. the box was opened and a panchnama was prepared, in the presence of two persons, embodying the contents of the suitcase. later on, when the appellant was examined he made declaration about all the goods which were actually found therein. at no stage, the appellant had tried to conceal the contents. the goods were at no stage in the.....
Judgment:
1. This appeal is directed against the order the Collector of Customs (Appeals), New Delhi, dated 21-4-1983.

2. The appellant arrived at Palam airport from Singapore on 3-2-1981.

He had booked two packages with the Airlines but on arrival at Delhi only one package was found. The second package had not arrived and was missing. A Landing Certificate (copy at Annexure F of the Paper Book) was issued by the Air Customs Superintendent. This indicated clearance of goods worth Rs. 500/-. The free allowance to the extent of Rs. 500/- was availed of by the appellant. The second package was found kept where the unaccompanied baggage is stocked. On 17-2-1981 the second package was opened in the absence of the appellant. The panchnama was prepared, a copy of which has been placed on the file. This shows that 10 items, including sarees, cassette recorders, pocket transistors, etc., were found in the suitcase. These goods were totally valued at Rs. 6,000/- according to the Panchnama. The lower authorities held that the goods contained in the box, which was missing, had been brought by the appellant and the declaration had not been made. So he had violated she provisions of Section 77 of the Customs Act. The goods were, therefore, held liable to confiscation under Section 111(d) of the said Act. A show cause notice was issued and reply thereto was filed by the appellant but the Assistant Collector was not satisfied with the reply and ultimately absolutely confiscated the goods of the value of Rs. 6,000/-under Section 111(d) and (1) of the Customs Act. The container used for the said goods was confiscated under Section 118 of the said Act. A personal penalty of Rs. 1,500/- was also imposed on the appellant under Section 112 of the Customs Act. This order of the Assistant Collector was challenged by the appellant before the Appellate Collector, who upheld the orders of the Assistant Collector but reduced the personal penalty to Rs. 1,000/-. Against this order of the Appellate Collector, the appellant has come up in appeal before us.

3. The learned Counsel for the appellant has submitted that in the Landing Certificate only a mention was made that on package was missing. He submits that it was not necessary to give the contents of the package. It had been further argued that the issuance of a Landing Certificate is not a statutory requirement and that such a certificate is issued for the convenience of the passengers. It was put to Shri Kapoor, the learned representative of the respondent, whether the issuance of a Landing Certificate is a statutory requirement. He has not been able to show us any provision of law whether such a certificate in a particular form is required to be issued. In this certificate, there is a mention that free allowance to the extent of Rs. 500/- has been allowed to the appellant for the goods which were cleared at the time of his arrival.

4. The short question before us is whether a missing package, later found amongst the unclaimed packages, and opened in the absence of the owner would fasten any liability on the passenger that he had not declared the content of the missing box at the time of his arrival. In this case, the Customs authorities had not issued any notice to the appellant requiring him to come and get his missing box cleared. The box was opened and a panchnama was prepared, in the presence of two persons, embodying the contents of the suitcase. Later on, when the appellant was examined he made declaration about all the goods which were actually found therein. At no stage, the appellant had tried to conceal the contents. The goods were at no stage in the possession of the appellant after his arrival in India. He had not made, in writing, declaration to the Customs authorities about the contents of the box.

The duty was payable on some of the items and the learned Counsel or the appellant submitted that his cliant was always prepared to pay the duty as was payable under the law. It is not understood as to why the lower authorities had acted on mere surmises and had harassed the appellant for all these years. It was a simple case of clearing certain items which were subject to payment of duty and at no point of time the appellant had declined to pay the duty. After the goods were found by the Custom authorities, the appellant should have been asked to pay duty according to rules and get the goods cleared.

5. We do not find that he had violated any provision of law and confiscation or imposition of penalty was absolutely uncalled for. It was a bona fide package and was liable to be cleared on payment of the requisite duty according to the rules. We do not find any justification on the part of the lower authorities for confiscation of the goods or for imposing the penalty.

6. For the reasons stated above, we accept this appeal and set aside the impugned order of the Collector (Appeals). The consequential relief which flows as a result of the said decision be extended to the appellant, in particular, we refer to the duty free allowance as eligible under the rules.


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