K.S. HEGDE, J.
1. This is an appeal by special leave from the decision of the Division Bench of the Punjab High Court. The Division Bench reversed the decision of D.K. Mahajan allowing the writ petition filed by the appellant herein and quashing the order confiscating the goods imported by the appellant.
2. The appellant is a private limited company. It is an established importer and has been importing arms and ammunition for a number of years. On the strength of a licence issued on April 3, 1957, it imported from Holland some articles worth £84. The customs authorities confiscated those articles on the ground that they were 12 bore guns and the licence granted to the appellant did not permit it to import 12 bore guns. They were of the opinion that the articles imported are 12 bore guns and not the spare parts of 12 bore guns. The decision of the Customs Collector has been affirmed by the Central Board of Revenue as well as by the Government.
3. Mahajan, J. came to the conclusion that the articles imported are parts of 12 bore guns and that they cannot be considered as 12 bore guns. He held that the appellant was authorised to import those articles under the licence granted to it but the Division Bench of the Punjab High Court came to the conclusion that the finding of the authorities under the Sea Customs Act that the articles imported are 12 bore guns is binding on the court. The learned judges constituting the Division Bench of the High Court also took the view that those articles were 12 bore guns and that the import of 12 bore guns is prohibited by Items 314 and 315 of the Import Trade Schedule.
4. Items 314 and 315 of the Import Trade Schedule permit the import of barrels whether single or double for firearms and actions. Clause (d) of the licence says that the licence will not be valid for import of 12 bore shot guns single or double barrel. Therefore all that we have to see is whether the articles imported are 12 bore guns or whether they are merely barrels and actions. The parts of a gun can be broadly categorised under four heads viz. (1) Butt; (2) Barrel; (3) Action, and (4) Forehand. According to the appellant, the articles imported are only Barrels and Actions. It did not import either Butts or Forehands. Even according to the Collector of Customs, Butts were not imported. Without a Butt a gun cannot be used. Therefore the Collector of Customs, Board of Revenue and the Government were not right in concluding that the articles imported by the appellant are 12 bore guns. They are obviously parts of gun. Division Bench of the High Court was in error in thinking that every finding of the authorities under the Sea Customs Act, however, wrong it may be is binding on the Court.
5. In the result this appeal is allowed and the order of the Division of the High Court it set aside and that of the learned Single Judge restored. The respondents shall pay the costs of the appellant both in this Court as well as in the High Court.