1. This is an appeal under Section 129-A of the Customs Act, 1962 filed by M/s. Manganese Ore (India) Ltd., against the order No. S/IO-1O2/82F dated 27.5.82 of the Addl. Collector of Customs, Bombay, confiscating 104 Drums of Atomised Ferro Silicon valued at Rs. 104,804/- and allowing them to be redeemed on payment of fine of Rs. 30,0C0/-. The appellants contend that the order is not correct as the import of Atomised Ferro Silicon is permitted under O.G.L. under Appendix 10 Sr.
No. 8. In support of this contention they have relied on the classification given to them in letter No. PD-2 2 /81 dt. 12.1.82 from the Department of Steel, Govt. of India, New Delhi, stating that Atomised Ferro Silicon cannot be imported under O.G.L. The appellants contend that this clarification has to be treated as authentic in terms of instructions contained at paras 52 and 205 of the Import Policy. The appellants further point out that the goods in question were required for research purpose and hence the appellants approached the Ministry of Finance through the Ministry of Steel and Mines to grant exemption to the goods in question. But since the requirements were pressing they cleared the goods before exemption was granted. It has also been pointed out that the appellants are a public sector undertaking. On the aforesaid considerations the appellants plead for setting aside of the Addl. Collector's order.
2. The Departmental Representative has pointed out that there are two methods of obtaining Ferro Silicon powder, one by crushing and one other by Atomising The policy in respect of iron and steel items is incorporated under Appendices 6 & 7. Appendix 6 covers list of banned items and under Sr. No. 11 (b) Atomised Ferro Silicon is excluded from the purview of the banned list. Appendix 7 covers iron and steel items.
Under Sr. No. 20 all Ferro Alloys in powder form excluding Ferro Atomised powder are included. It therefore follows that Atomised Ferro Silicon powder is cohered within the purview of entry 20 of Appendix 7.
Hence the import of these items cannot be permitted under O.G.L.
Besides examination of the goods in question and the chemical test report clarify that the goods were in powder form. Sr. No. 2 of Appendix 10 permits import of iron and steel items to actual users which are not mentioned in Appendices 6. 7 & 8. Hence the import is not covered by O.G.L. and the goods offend the Import Control Regulations.
As regards the Ministry of steel & Mines, clarification, it is not known in what context the appellants sought the clarification from them and hence it is not possible to offer any comments on the Department of Steel's letter dt. 12.1 82 to the fact that the goods in question are covered under O.G.L. and that no clearance seems necessary from the Department of Steel. The Departmental representative has thus submitted that no reliance can be placed on this letter. He has also pointed out that the fine was quite leniert considering the value of the goods and has submitted that the appeal be dismissed as no further leniency is warranted.
3. The appellants have stated in reply that the clarification from the Department of Steel was sought for knowing the problem and the clarification has therefore to be accepted as correct and the Customs authorities should have accepted the same. The goods in question were required for R. &. D. purposes and the Ministry of Finance was approached forgiving exemption from duty to the goods in question. The goods were imported under the approval of the Ministiy of Steel and Mines. Hence the appellants have prayed for setting aside of the order of the Addl. Collector of Customs.
4. We have examined the submissions of the appellants and the respondent. We find that Sr. No. 20 of Appendix 7 is very explicit and as per. i lie aforesaid entry import of all Ferro Alloys in powder form is restricted. The import is thus not covered under Appendix 10 Sr. No.2 and requires the licences. Since the licence has not been produce the import has been deemed as unauthorised. As regards the clarification from the Department of Steel, the same is incorrect and it cannot be accepted as there is no doubt about the Import Policy of the goods under appeal. The appellants reliance on para 52 is therefore of no avail. There is no doubt about the Import Policy of the goods and hence the clarification from the Department of Steel is not relevant.
Similarly, the principle for interpreting the policy as confirmed in para 206 of the Policy Book are not applicable in the present case. We find that considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Addl. Collector's order is quite lenient and correct.
5. We also notice that the order under appeal was received by the appellants on 30.7 K ) and the appeal against this order has been tiled in the Tribunal's Office at Delhi on 22.11.82. The appellants have stated that their appeal was originally filed to the earlier Appellate authority, namely, the Central Board of Excise & Customs and the Board in their letter No. Dy. No. 188 /K2AUB dt. 19.10.82 returned the appeal to them for being presented to the Appellate Tribunal. Under the aforesaid letter the Board also advised them of the provisions of Customs, Central Excise & Gold (Control Removal of Difficulties Order, 1982 under which a time limit of 6 months was allowed for presenting the appeal. We find that this is a wrong advice on the part of the Board. The order dt. 11.10.82 does not cover the Addl. Collector's order under appeal and the 6 months time limit for filing the appeal is not available to the appellants in the present case. There is no request on the part of the appellants for relaxation of the time limit in pressing the appeal. We therefore find that the appeal is also time-barred under Section 129-A of the Customs Act. We are unable to extend this time limit suo mot.
6. In the aforesaid circumstances the appeal is not tenable both on grounds of merits and on account of time-bar. We accordingly dismiss the same.