1. The respondents herein, M/s. Southern Sulphates and Chemicals (Pvt) Ltd. have imported six items such as Micro, Grip, Panel and Fuses, Pipes and tubes, cover and rings, Hydraulic clicking machine, Magnet and screws and presented a Bill of Entry. The value and the rate of Customs duty and additional duty of Customs were indicated against each of these items, The value for each item was indicated at the time of presentation of the Bill of Entry. The rate of duty applicable to each entry was indicated by the appraiser (assessing officer). When this went for calculation at the hands of the clerk/comptist in respect of one item it appears that instead of calculating the quantum of duty on a rate of 40% the rate has been calculated at 100%. The amount as indicated finally in the column 'Total amount of duty' as Rs. 53,669.90 was paid on 5-11-1981. The respondents made a claim for refund of duty on 12-5-1982. This was rejected by the Assistant Collector of Customs, Refunds, Madras as barred by limitation under Section 27 of the Customs Act, 1962-vide his order No. S25/3355/82 dated 25-5-1982. The respondents filed an appeal to the Collector of Customs (Appeals), Madras. That authority observed: "The error has therefore occurred in totalling of various assessments and therefore when the words and expressions used in Section 26, Customs Act, 1962, is read there is some force in the argument of the appellant that the grand total is not an order of assessment and therefore the claim would not be governed by Section 27 of the Customs Act, 1962".
In this view he found that Sub-section (4) of Section 27 will not apply and Sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of Section 27 are not relevant. He therefore held that the claim should be entertained under the General Financial rules read with the law of limitation and ordered refund.
2. The Collector of Customs, Madras has come up in appeal against this order. The Collector urges that assessment of duty or order of assessment does not merely confine to indication of the tariff heading and rate of duty by the assessing officer. It includes the calculation of total amount of duty payable. The fact that this part of the work viz. calculation of the total amount of duty done by the comptist is incidental and is based on administrative convenience. He therefore urges that the case is squarely covered by Section 27 of the Act. He also refers vaguely to the 'Doctrine of Lapse'.
3. S.D.R. generally supports the stand taken by the Collector and urges that the order of the Collector (Appeals) be set aside as he stresses that assessment is a composite act which is complete only if it is indicated with the quantum of duty. We enquired whether the provisions of Section 154 of the Act will apply. S.D.R. replied in the negative.
4. Section 27 refers to a claim of refund of any duty in pursuance of an order of assessment made by an officer of Customs, The question for consideration is what is the order of assessment in this case. A close look at the Bill of Entry indicates that all that the proper officer has done is to show the rate of duty against each of the six entries.
There is no dispute about the correctness of these rates. As we have already observed, the error in calculating the quantum at the rate of 100% against one entry whereas the proper officer has shown as 40%.
Section 154 of the Act reads: "Clerical or arithmetical mistakes in any decision or order passed by ... any officer of customs under this Act, or errors arising therein from accidental slip or omission may, at any time be corrected by ... such officer of customs or the successor in office of such officer....." Obviously, what has happened in this case is a clerical mistake or an error arising from an accidental slip in calculating the rate of duty applicable by the clerk/comptist in that he has calculated it at 100% instead of the rate at 40%. In this view of the matter we think that the provisions of Section 154 of the Act would cover the facts of the case and a correction in the quantum of duty as shown in the Bill of Entry should be ordered. We do so.
5. Thus we uphold the order of the Collector (Appeals) and dismiss the appeal with consequential benefit to the respondents.