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S. Narayanan Vs. the Collector of Customs - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCustoms;Commercial
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1962)2MLJ421
AppellantS. Narayanan
RespondentThe Collector of Customs
Excerpt:
- .....an invoice was duly made for that purpose. armed with his own licence, which authorised import of goods priced at rs. 500, the petitioner approached the customs authorities for delivery of the goods. while so doing, he informed the authorities of the market value of the goods as 215-12-0. the assistant collector of customs held that as the market value of the goods imported was higher than what the licence in favour of the petitioner covered, there was a contravention of the licence and therefore of the provisions of the import control act, 1947. he therefore directed the confiscation of the goods with liberty to the petitioner to clear the goods on payment of rs. 1,200 within four months from the date of the order in lieu of confiscation. the petitioner thereupon filed an appeal to the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Ramachandra Iyer, C.J.

1. This is a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution for the issue of a writ of certiorari calling for the records of the Collector of Customs, Madras, and quash the order, dated 19th June, 1958, in C. 3/751 of 1958-Ap., which confirmed the order of the Assistant Collector of Customs, Madras, confiscating certain important goods. One Senjoo Chetty had placed an order through the petitioner, with M/s. Willy G. Czech, Exporters, Bremen, West Germany, for a quantity of Bright Iron Boot Studs. Senjoo Chetty had a licence under the Import Control Order authorising him to import those goods. The licence was, dated 14th March, 1957 and it was current for a period of six months thereafter. Within the period of the licence, the exporter despatched 50 cases of Boot Protector Studs. The next consignment of about 49 cases was despatched by steamer. But unfortunately, it was done outside the period of Senjoo Chetty's licence. The goods arrived in Madras Harbour. But the importer refused to take delivery of the goods. The petitioner who appears to be an enterprising gentleman had himself a licence to import similar goods for the value of Rs. 500. The licence was, dated 27th December, 1957 and it was current during the period when the steamer carrying the 49 cases of Boot Studs arrived at Madras. He started corresponding with the exporter, who was not new to him, pointing out to him the loss that would ensue by re-booking the goods which could not be cleared for want of licence in favour of Senjoo Chetty. He offered that he would himself personally take the goods if they were to be sold to him for the sum of Rs. 500. The exporter was willing for that course. He sold the entire consignment of 49 cases, in respect of which he had billed Senjoo Chetty 215-12-0 to the petitioner for a sum of 36-15-0. An invoice was duly made for that purpose. Armed with his own licence, which authorised import of goods priced at Rs. 500, the petitioner approached the Customs Authorities for delivery of the goods. While so doing, he informed the Authorities of the market value of the goods as 215-12-0. The Assistant Collector of Customs held that as the market value of the goods imported was higher than what the licence in favour of the petitioner covered, there was a contravention of the licence and therefore of the provisions of the Import Control Act, 1947. He therefore directed the confiscation of the goods with liberty to the petitioner to clear the goods on payment of Rs. 1,200 within four months from the date of the order in lieu of confiscation. The petitioner thereupon filed an appeal to the Collector of Customs but without success. By these proceedings the petitioner seeks to quash the orders aforesaid on the ground that there has been no contravention of the terms of the licence and that as such the Customs Authorities acted beyond their jurisdiction in directing the confiscation of the goods.

2. The import of goods from foreign countries is controlled as a result of the policy of the Government to encourage local industry and also with a view to conserve; the foreign exchange for the benefit of the country. The Import and Exports (Control) Act, 1947, is intended to prohibit, restrict or otherwise control imports and exports into and from this country. Under Section 3(1) of the said Act the Central Government may, by an order make provision for prohibiting, restricting or otherwise controlling the import and export of goods of any description. Sub-section (2) states that goods to which the order under Sub-section (1) would apply shall be deemed to be goods of which the import or export has been prohibited or restricted under Section 19 of the Sea Customs Act, 1878 and that all the provisions except Section 183 or the latter Act would apply. In exercise of the powers conferred under the Import Control Act the Government of India passed the Imports Control Order, 1955. Clause 3 of that Order states that, save as otherwise provided in the Order, no person shall import any goods of the description specified in Schedule I, except under and in accordance with a licence or a customs clearance permit granted by the Central Government. The licence granted to the petitioner for importing goods says:

Messrs. S. Narayanan. . . . are hereby authorised to import the goods of which particulars are given below:

Column 3 : Description of goods : Boot and Shoe Grindery as per policy. ,

Column 6 : Approximate value c.i.f., Rupees five hundred only.

Column 7 : Period of shipment valid upto 31st December, 1958.

Column 8 : Limiting factor for purposes of clearance through customs : Value.

It is urged on behalf of the respondent that under the provisions of Section 3(2) of the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, all the provisions of the Sea Customs Act except those contained in Section 183, would apply and that the value for the purpose of Import Control Order would be the same as for the purpose of the levy of duty under Sections 29 and 30 of the Sea Customs Act. Section 29 of that Act imposes an obligation on the owner to declare the real value of the goods in bill of entry or shipping bill. There is no controversy in this case that the provisions of that section have been complied with, as the petitioner had disclosed to the Customs Authorities that the real value of the goods was 215-12-0. Section 30 states for the purposes of the Act the real value shall be deemed to be the wholesale cash price for which goods of like kind and quality are sold, or are capable of being sold. Under this provision,, it will be the actual market value of the goods that will be the real value. But that provision is intended only for purposes of levy of duty. The question in the present case is whether for the purpose of construing the licence granted to the petitioner that value under Section 30 has got to be adopted. The licence specifically states that the limiting factor for the purposes of clearance through customs is the value of the goods and that value is stated as the approximate C.I.F. value. It is not disputed in the present case that the C.I.F. value, so far as the petitioner was concerned, was only 36-15-0, that is, within the limits of the licence issued to the petitioner. In the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the Customs Department it is stated that the Customs Authorities have always been working on the basis that it is the assessable C.I.F. value of the goods which is considered as the value of the import licence. I find it difficult to understand what is meant by 'assessable C.I.F. value '. C.I.F. value represents the price for which the seller is willing and does sell the goods. That is a matter which will be governed by the contract between the parties. If the seller is willing to sell his goods, on account of some circumstances he finds himself placed in for a considerably lower value than its market price, it cannot be said that the C.I.F. price of goods was anything other than what was stipulated between the parties as the price. So far as the assessable value is concerned, there can be no doubt that the provisions of Section 30 of the Sea Customs Act would apply to the case. We are not however concerned with that question in the present case. We have only to see whether the goods are liable to entry into this country under the cover of the licence granted in favour of the petitioner. The only governing factor, so far as that question is concerned, is the contract price between the parties. It is not contended on behalf of the Department that the contractual C.I.F. price was anything other than what is represented in the invoice issued by the seller to the petitioner. There may be cases where the invoice price was only a camouflage to hide the real price. In such a case the Import Control Authorities will have undoubted jurisdiction to ascertain what was the real price or there may be cases in which a portion of the price had already been given to the seller and the balance alone is entered in the invoice simply with a view to obtain entry for the goods into this country. In those cases it will be competent for the Authorities to ascertain the real price of the goods for the purpose of entry without offending the provisions of the Import Control Order. In the present case there is no suggestion that the C.I.F. price covered by the invoice sent to the petitioner is anything other than 36-15-0. That being so there is a valid licence for the petitioner to import and clear the goods. The order of the Customs Authorities directing confiscation of the goods is invalid and it is hereby quashed. The petition is allowed and the rule nisi is made absolute. There will be no order as to costs.


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