K.N. Shukla, J.
1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
2. Petitioner No. 2 Babu Singh is the owner of Bus No. MNP-3907 and holds an All India permit for running it on hire. The Bus plies between Indore & Bombay. Video Cassette Recorder and Colour Television are installed in this Bus. According to the petitioners this Video Cassette Recorder and Colour T.V. were imported by one Marukh Mohammed on 25-10-1980 and he had paid the requisite import duty at the Bombay Customs Office vide Baggage Receipt No. 334651 dated 25th October, 1980. This Marukh Mohammed transferred the imported Colour T.V. and Video Cassette Recorder to petitioner No. 2, Babu Singh and the same were fitted in the Bus. On 17-11-1981, Officers of the Central Excise Department, headed by the respondent No. 1, Superintendent Central Excise (Preventive) visited the office of the petitioner and seized the said T.V. and Video Cassette Recorder along with the Baggage Receipt and T.V. Licence in the name of the petitioner No. 2, Babu Singh.
3. Petitioners have challenged the seizure on the ground that the requisite import duty on the Television and the Video Cassette Recorder had been duly paid and these articles were cleared at the Customs. It was alleged that the action of the respondents was mal fide because the petitioners had refused to provide them extra facilities in their travels.
4. In the return filed by the respondents, it was denied that the requisite import duty had been paid on these imported items. It was alleged that the respondent No. 1 had a well founded reasonable belief pursuant to the seizure of Video Cassettes in a raid conducted at the premises of one M/s. Videonics, Indore. It was found on the basis of the seized documents that the petitioners purchased Video Cassettes and Tapes from the said M/s. Videonics. The seizure was accordingly made of the articles and documents. As regards the Baggage Receipt produced by the petitioners, the respondents alleged that on investigation it was found that the Baggage Receipt was forged document and it did not tally with the original, which was issued by the Custom Office to the importer Marukh Mohammed. It was also stated that the petitioner No. 2, Babu Singh was interrogated by the Officers of the Central Excise Department and he had denied to have purchased the said T.V. and Video Cassette Recorder from Marukh Mohammed. According to the respondents the matter is still under investigation. The respondents, thus, denied the alleged illegality of the seizure made by the respondent No. 1.
5. Learned counsel for the petitioners laid great emphasis on the provisions of Section 110 of the Customs Act, which empowers an authorised officer to seize the goods only if he has reason to believe that any goods are liable to confiscation under the Customs Act. Learned counsel vehemently argued that there was no such reason to believe for seizure of the goods in question. He referred to two decisions in support of his contention. They are Nathalla Sompathu Chetty and Anr. v. Collector Customs, Madras, A.I.R. 1959, Madras 142 and M.G. Abrol and Anr. v. Amichand Vallami and Ors., A.I.R. 1961, Bombay 227. We have carefully perused both these authorities and we are clear that they are distinguishable on facts. In the case of N.S. Chetty (supra) after the investigation was completed, the Collector of Customs accorded personal hearing to the petitioner under the Sea Customs Act and then passed an order holding that the statutory burden cast on the petitioner under the Sea Customs Act had not been discharged. In the Writ Petition vires of Section 170A of the Sea Customs Act were challenged and the Madras High Court held that the said section was invalid and inoperative. In the petition before us there is no such challenge to any provisions of the statute. Further, the investigation is still in progress and no final order about confiscation has yet been passed.
6. In M.G. Abrol's case (supra) the seizure was not quashed and the matter was sent back to the inquiry officer to inquire and be satisfied as to whether the Customs Officer, who had seized the goods was not wrong in his belief that the goods which he had seized were smuggled goods.
7. In the present case, the affidavit of the respondent No. 1 shows that this respondent had raided the premises of a dealer in Video Cassettes and had found that the petitioners were regular customers of the said dealer. This led them to a reasonable belief that the petitioners were in possession of the goods liable to confiscation. The belief prima facie proved to be correct because admittedly the goods seized by the respondent No. 1 were imported notified goods and they could not be imported into India without paying the necessary import duty.
8. Further, as already pointed out, the genuineness of the Baggage Receipt, filed by the petitioners, is questioned by the respondents, who have filed a photostat copy of the original, which apparently does not tally in its contents with the one filed by the petitioners. The matter becomes further mysterious because petitioner No. 2, Babu Singh, who is said to be the purchaser or the transferee of these items has reportedly denied to have ever purchased the same from the importer Marukh Mohammed. Since the matter is still under investigation and whether the facts stated by the petitioners are correct or not can only be decided after iuquiry of facts, no writ of certiorari can be issued in these circumstances.
9. The petition is, therefore, dismissed with costs. Petitioners will pay the costs of the respondents. Counsel's fee Rs, 200/-.