1. The petitioner in the writ petition is the appellant before us. He filed a petition praying that the High Court will be pleased to issue a writ of certiorari calling for the records of the respondent, Additional Collector of Customs, Custom House, Madras, dated 28th November, 1970 in O.S. No. 583 of 1968 R.D., imposing a personal penalty of Rs. 15,000 under Section 112 of the Customs Act, 1962 and to quash the said order. The petition was dismissed by Ramaprasada Rao, J., holding that the order passed by the Customs authorities was proper and in accordance with law and the decision arrived at by them has to be sustained.
2. Mr. K. Srinivasan, learned Counsel for tire appellant, questioned the correctness of the order of the learned Judge mainly on the ground that the requirement of Sections 110(2) and 124 of the Customs Act has not been complied with. His plea is that the goods were seized on 14th November, 1968 and a notice which was attempted to be served on the appellant could not be served on 8th May, 1969 as he had left the premises and later the notice of seizure was served on the appellant's Counsel on 3rd October, 1969. It was pleaded that as no notice of intention to seize the goods was served on the appellant within six months from the date of seizure as required by law, the entire proceedings are void. Section no (2) of the Customs Act provides that where any goods are seized under Sub-section (1) of Section 110 and no notice in respect thereof is given under Clause (a) of Section 124 within six months of the seizure of the goods, the goods shall be returned to the person from whose possession they were seized. In this connection it is not necessary to refer to the proviso as no such notice extending the period was given as contemplated in the proviso. Section 124(a) states that no order confiscating any goods or imposing any penalty on any person shall be made under this Chapter unless the owner of the goods or such person is given a notice in writing informing him of the grounds on which it is proposed to confiscate the goods or to impose a penalty. Thus it will be seen from Section 110(2) and Section 124(1) that a notice in writing informing the appellant of the grounds on which it is proposed to confiscate the goods or to impose a penalty should be given within six months from the date of seizure of the goods. In this case on behalf of the Customs authorities the notice sent by registered post and returned with the endorsement 'left' on 13th May, 1969, which is admittedly within six months, is relied on, while on behalf of the appellant it is stated that this notice with the endorsement 'left' is not proper service and therefore could not be relied on.
3. The only point that arises is whether the service by registered post effected on 13th May, 1969, which was returned with the endorsement 'left', is sufficient notice. Section 153 of the Act states that any order or decision passed or any summons or notice issued under the Customs Act, shall be served (a) by tendering the order, decision, summons or notice or sending it by registered post to the person for whom it is intended or to his agent; Sub-section (b) of Section 153 need not be referred to as it does not arise in this case. A notice had been sent by registered post duly addressed to the appellant. The section requires that notice shall be served by sending it by registered post to the person for whom it is intended. The section does not require that effective service should be effected on the appellant receiving it. This position is made clear by reference to Section 27 of the General Clauses Act which states that where any Central Act requires any document to be served by post, then, unless a different intention appears, the service shall be deemed to be effected by properly addressing, pre-paying and posting by registered post, a letter containing the document, and unless the contrary is proved, to have been effected at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post. The normal presumption, unless the contrary is proved, is that the service shall be deemed to have been properly effected when a letter is properly addressed, pre-paid and posted by registered post. That the notice was sent to proper address, pre-paid and posted by registered post is not under dispute. No other attempt has been made to prove the contrary. The endorsement 'left' is not sufficient to prove the contrary. Apart from it, a reading of the section indicates that the proof to the contrary can only be limited to proving that the service had not been effected at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post. We find no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that there has been proper service of notice. The writ petition was rightly dismissed. This appeal fails and it is dismissed.