Alladi Kuppuswami, J.
W.A. No. 325/1978 :
1. This is an appeal against the judgment of our learned brother Jeevan Reddy, J., admitting a writ petition challenging the order of the Government of India dismissing an appeal preferred against the order of the Collector of Central Excise, Hyderabad. The appellant herein and another were apprehended by the Sub-Inspector of Police on 25-5-1964 at Renigunta railway station as they were suspected of carrying primary gold. The appellant was carrying a quantity of 3491.900 grams of gold rods and semi-finished articles. He was taken to the police station. The Sub-Inspector of Police informed the Deputy Superintendent of Central Excise, Chittor about this and the latter proceeded to Renigunta on 26-5-1964 and took possession of the gold from the room in the police station in which it was placed by the Sub-Inspector of Police, A statement was taken from the Appellant in which he said that the gold constituted 'ornaments' and was not primary gold. The Collector of Central Excise subsequently enquired into the matter. A trade panel opined that they were gold ornaments and not primary gold. The Collector of Central Excise did not agree with this opinion. He himself inspected the gold personally. He observed that they were given the semblance of ornaments to bypass the Gold Control Order. Ultimately he passed an order confiscating the seized gold levying a penalty of Rs. 10,000/-. As against this the appellant preferred a revision petition to the Government of India which was dismissed. The appellant thereupon filed a writ petition challenging the validity of the said order which was also dismissed by our learned brother Jeevan Reddy J.
2. The first contention that is raised on behalf of the appellant is that the seizure of the gold by the Sub-Inspector was illegal as he was not a person duly authorised to make such seizure under Rule 126(L) of the Defence of India Rules. The learned Judge rejected the contention stating that the articles were seized by the Deputy Superintendent of Central Excise, Chittoor who was duly authorised. The police officer had merely detained the person and property until the authorised officer arrived and seized them. We entirely agree with this view. As the seizure was made by the Deputy Superintendent of Central Excise who was duly authorised, it cannot de said that the seizure was illegal. The mere fact that the Sub-Inspector of Police took it from the custody of the petitioner and placed it in a room in the police station does not constitute seizure. Even if it amounted to a seizure, as according to the petitioner that seizure is void, the articles must be deemed to have been in possession of the appellant and as they were subsequently seized by the Deputy Superintendent of Central Excise who was an authorised officer, the seizure was legal.
3. It is next contended by Shri Dhanurbhanudu, the learned counsel for the appellant, that even the Deputy Superintendent of Central Excise could not seize the gold as he was not an officer authorised by the Administrator by writing as required by Rule 126(L) of the Defence of India Rules. It is, however, admitted that there was a notification of the Government of India authorising the Deputy Superintendent of Central Excise to exercise the powers to seize gold under Rule 126(L)(2) of Defence of India Rules. We are unable to accept the argument advanced that such a notification does not amount to authorisation by writing within the meaning of Rule 126(L).
4. It is further submitted that the orders of the Government of India and the Collector of Excise are liable to be quashed as they are based on no evidence. It is argued that the orders were passed merely on the confession made by the appellant to the Deputy Superintendent of Central Excise while he was in the custody of the police at the police station and such confession is not admissible in evidence under Section 26 of the Evidence Act. Jeevan Reddy, J. held that the principles of the Evidence Act are not strictly applicable to proceedings before quasi-judicial authorities. Secondly, it is not correct to state that the authorities proceeded only on the confession and even if the alleged confession is excluded, there is other evidence on which the order could be sustained. We find from a perusal of the order of the Collector of Excise that he has not passed the order on the basis of the alleged confession. Having observed that he did not agree with the opinion of the Trade Panel, the Collector stated that he had personally seen the gold and had come to the conclusion that it was primary gold and was not ornaments as contended by the appellant. He gave several reasons for coming to that conclusion and we see no reason to differ from the conclusion arrived at by the Collector. It cannot, therefore, be said that the Collector's order was based upon an inadmissible confession.
5. Lastly, the learned counsels sought to contend that the Collector, who was himself the judge, ought not to have proceeded merely upon his own opinion about the nature of the articles, thereby constituting himself both a judge and a prosecutor. We do not see any force in this submission. The Collector had jurisdiction to decide whether the articles seized was primary gold or ornaments and it was open to him to rely upon his own observation of the actual articles seized. In doing so it cannot be said that he was acting both as a judge and as a prosecutor. For instance it is well known that a judge is asked to make a local inspection of any land or building which is the subject matter of a suit and acts upon the impression formed by him on such local inspection. Similarly a judge also proceeded upon the impression regarding the handwriting or signature which is challenged. It cannot be said that in such cases, the judge is functioning both as a judge and as a prosecutor. We have, therefore, no hesitation in rejecting this contention also.
6. We see no reason to differ from the judgment of Jeevan Reddy, J. The writ appeal is dismissed.
W.A. No. 326/78 :
7. This writ appeal and writ appeal No. 325/78 in which we rendered judgment arise under a common judgment of Jeevan Reddy, J. in writ petition Nos. 3205/77 and 3223/77 respectively. Except that the appellants are different, the facts are identical. Hence this appeal is also dismissed.