1. In this case, the appellants' claim for refund was rejected as time-barred under Section 27 of the Customs Act, 1962 by both the lower authorities. During the hearing before us to-day, the appellants stated that this was a case of double payment of duty on the same set of goods and this happened because the supplier sent two sets of invoices for the same goods (Invoice Nos. 18210-18212 and 18365-18367). Because of the double invoicing, the value was shown as twice in the import document and the Customs duty paid double than what should have been.
Though the duty was paid in April, 1975, the mistake came to their notice very late after the consignment was actually released from Customs charge on 5-11-1976. The fact of double invoicing was proved by the supplier's letter dated 10-8-1976. The fact that the same set of goods had been invoiced twice was fully established by the appellants before Calcutta Customs and the Customs had thereupon granted the re-credit of Rs. 2,78,593.68 to their import licence. But their claim for refund of the double duty paid was rejected on the ground of time-bar under Section 27 ibid since it was made late. The Departmental Representative did not dispute the facts as given out by the appellants.
2. We have carefully considered the matter. Both sides have agreed before us that while only one set of goods was imported, the duty was charged in this case on, two sets of invoices. In other words, duty was charged on the second set of goods which were, in fact, non-existent and had never been imported. This Bench had already held that in cases of non-importation of goods, the amount collected has to be treated as a deposit with the Government and not as duty and the time-bar of Section 27 would not apply to the refund of such a deposit. For the same reason, we allow this appeal, set aside the impugned order and direct the Appellate Collector to consider the appellants' claim afresh on merits.