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State Through Assistant Collector, Customs and Central Excise Vs. Tilak Raj Kapur Son of Shri Amar Nath Kapur of Kapur Trading Co. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCustoms
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 501 DBA of 1981
Judge
Reported in1985(4)ECC91; 1984(18)ELT183(P& H)
ActsCustoms Act, 1962 - Sections 111 and 135 (1)
AppellantState Through Assistant Collector, Customs and Central Excise
RespondentTilak Raj Kapur Son of Shri Amar Nath Kapur of Kapur Trading Co.
Appellant Advocate G.S. Chawla, Adv.
Respondent Advocate J.H. Sethi, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
customs - search and seizure--confiscation--offence--prosecution--prosecution of respondent on ground that foreign watches were recovered from him after search and he was not able to produce documentary evidence to show bona fide purchase of watches--acquittal by magistrate after careful appraisal of evidence--appeal--high court--finding of trial court could not be interfered with--customs act (52 of 1962), sections 111., 135(1)(b)(ii). - sections 80 (2) & 89 & punjab motor vehicles rules, 1989, rules 85 & 80: [t.s. thakur, cj, jasbir singh & surya kant, jj] appeal against orders of state or regional transport authority imitation held, a stipulation regarding the period of limitation available for invoking the remedy shall have to be strictly construed. that is because any provision by..........father, who died prior to the present raid ; that he had no conscious possession of the alleged recovered watches as he used to do only repair work and that he remained sitting outside the shop at the time of raid. madan lal and baldev raj were examined by him in defence, who deposed that none of those recovered watches were of foreign origin.5. the learned chief judicial magistrate after a threadbare appraisal of the two competing various contentions put up by the prosecution and the defence, succinctly concluded as follows :'when the alleged confessional statement exhibit p.c. is not proved as voluntary statement of the accused and the recovery of the watches vide exhibits p.a. and p. 8 is not established beyond all doubt from the oral evidence of the official witnesses, the case of.....
Judgment:
ORDER

S.S. Dewan, J.

1. The Assistant Collector Customs and Central Excise appeals against the acquittal of the respondent on the charge Under Section 135(1)(b)(ii) of the Customs Act.

2. This appeal appears to us as singularly lacking in merit and it, therefore, suffices to make a brief reference to the facts. Indeed it would be wasteful to traverse the same ground over again in its entirety which has been so competently covered by the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jullundur, in his judgment dated January 16, 1981, which is under challenge.

3. That on 14th June, 1974, officials of the Customs Department raided the business premises of M/s. Kapur Trading Co., Phagwara Gate, Jullundur. As a result of search, 93 new wrist watches of foreign origin valued at Rs. 5404/- were recovered. It is said that the respondent could not produce any documentary evidence to show the bona fide purchase/acquisition of those watches and in the circumstances, those watches were seized and confiscated by the Assistant Collector Customs and Central Excise, Jullundur, Under Section 111 of the Customs Act, 1962, vide his order dated Nov. 30, 1974. The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Jullundur, found a prima facie case against the respondent and accordingly charged him for the said offence.

4. The prosecution examined 4 witnesses in support of its case. The respondent denied the prosecution allegations and pleaded that the shop from where the alleged recovery of the watches was effected belonged to his late father, who died prior to the present raid ; that he had no conscious possession of the alleged recovered watches as he used to do only repair work and that he remained sitting outside the shop at the time of raid. Madan Lal and Baldev Raj were examined by him in defence, who deposed that none of those recovered watches were of foreign origin.

5. The learned Chief Judicial Magistrate after a threadbare appraisal of the two competing various contentions put up by the prosecution and the defence, succinctly concluded as follows :

'When the alleged confessional statement Exhibit P.C. is not proved as voluntary statement of the accused and the recovery of the watches vide Exhibits P.A. and P. 8 is not established beyond all doubt from the oral evidence of the official witnesses, the case of the prosecution has remained unproved and the accused is, therefore, held as entitled to the benefit of doubt in this case.'

In the result, the respondent was given the benefit of doubt and acquitted of the charge framed against him.

6. At the very outset, one may recall that this is an appeal against acquittal and it is by now well settled that unless the findings of the trial court are such that they could not possibly be arrived at reasonably, no interference therewith should ordinarily be made. Herein, far from it being so, we are of the view that the trial court has lucidly recorded conclusions which we are inclined to confirm. It hence suffices to briefly record our reasons therefore. The prosecution case herein suffers from such glaring infirmities that no conviction could possibly be rested thereon. The trial Magistrate held that there was no cogent evidence adduced on behalf of the prosecution regarding the conscious possession of watches allegedly recovered from the shop of the respondent. According to PW. 3 D.C. Bhatia, eight watches were recovered from the shelf lying at three different places whereas according to PW 4, P.D. Bhardwaj, eight watches were recovered by R.S. Bal from the Wooden Shelf, but R.S. Bal give altogether a different version. According to him, these watches were contained in a paper packet and were recovered from one place. Thus the place of recovery of eight watches is not proved beyond doubt due to the discrepancies, regarding the place and the manner those were recovered. Besides these discrepancies, R.S. Bal stated that a number of persons had collected outside the shop at the time of search, but P.D. Bhardwaj denied this fact and stated that people did not collect at the spot at the time of raid although the Bazar was open. The trial court found that in the light of the aforesaid discrepancies and non-corroboration from any independent source, it is difficult to rely upon such evidence and it could not be held that it is proved beyond doubt that the watches were recovered from the premises of the respondent. This finding based soundly on the record could not be seriously assailed on behalf of the Appellant-State before us. There is one more circumstance which militates against the prosecution. There is not a title of evidence on record to show that the watches allegedly recovered from the premises of the respondent were of foreign origin. In this view of the matter, the respondent could not be held liable for the offence with which he was charged. All these factors make it plain that the trial court in our view was right in not placing reliance on the prosecution evidence.

7. For these reasons, we are of the view that the acquittal of the respondent was wholly justified and the appeal of the State is without merit. The same is hereby dismissed.


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