1. By this petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the petitioner is challenging the action of the respondents in confiscating the Video Cassette Recorder with 13 tapes of the petitioner, which the petitioner imported from London on June 27, 1979. The petitioner had gone to the United Kingdom on a business promotion tour and was presented with a Video Cassette Recorder and 13 Video Cassette Tapes by his sister. The petitioner landed at Santacruz Air Port on June 27, 1979 and declared for the purpose of levy of custom duty the goods imported by him the Adjudicating Officer confiscated the Video Cassette Recorder on the ground that the import was not permitted. The petitioner requested for permission to re-export, but that request was turned down. The petitioner carried an appeal before the Appellate Collector of Customs, but the appeal ended in dismissal by an order dated October 17, 1979.
2. Shri Rajhwani, the learned Counsel appearing in support of the petition, submits that the public notice dated May 16, 1978, a copy of which is annexed as Exh. C to the petition and which deals with import of goods as personal baggage provides in paragraph 3 that a passenger may be allowed to import, without an import licence, but on payment of customs duty items of personal or household effects. Shri Rajhwani submits that Video Cassette Recorder and Video Cassette Tapes are items of household effects and the authorities were clearly in error in confiscating the articles. In my judgment, the submission of Shri Rajhwani is correct and deserves to be accepted. Shri Rajhwani also relied upon the Customs Public Notice whereby a Departmental Clarification was issued on March 19, 1980 in respect of clearance of Video Cassette Recorder. The clarification provides that the clearance of Video Cassette Recorder covered by ITC (PN) 34/78 may be considered if they constitute bona fide personal effects and there is no reason to suspect misuse. Shri Rajhwani is right in his submission that by the Departmental Clarification what was obvious was reiterated.
3. Shri Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Department, submits that the petitioner has not exhausted the remedy of filing a revision petition before the Government of India and therefore the petition should not be entertained. The submission is without any merit. It is now well settled that the revision is not an adequate remedy. In any event, I do not see any reason why the petitioner should be deprived of justice on such technical consideration. Shri Mehta then submits that Video Cassette Recorder and Video Cassette Tapes cannot be treated as personal or household effects, at least in June 1979. The submission is without any merit. It is a common knowledge and of which judicial notice can be taken that Video Cassette Recorder and Video Cassette Tapes are used as household articles in this country. The Departmental Clarification has also approved that position.
4. Shri Mehta finally submits that the Public Notice (Exh. C) provides in paragraph 5 that the value limits set out in paragraph 3 shall not apply where a passenger imports a single article other than a fire-arm or ammunition. Shri Mehta submits that Video Cassette Recorder and Video Cassette Tapes are two different items and therefore the total value of Rs. 2000/- provided under paragraph 2 of the Public Notice would be violated. I find no merit in this submission, and the submission is only required to be stated to be rejected. In my judgment, the Department was clearly in error in confiscating the Video Cassette Recorder and 13 Video Cassette Tapes imported by the petitioner.
5. Accordingly, the petition succeeds and the rule is made absolute and the respondents are directed to release, within a period of 8 days from today, the Video Cassette Recorder and 13 Video Cassette Tapes of the petitioner on levy of duty prevalent on June 27, 1979.
The Respondents shall pay the costs of the petition.