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Electrical Industries Corporation Vs. Union of India (Uoi) and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCustoms
CourtKolkata High Court
Decided On
Case NumberMatter No. 509 of 1969
Judge
Reported inAIR1972Cal539
ActsCustoms Act, 1962 - Section 131
AppellantElectrical Industries Corporation
RespondentUnion of India (Uoi) and ors.
Appellant AdvocateM. Banerji, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateD. Sen, Adv.
Cases ReferredUniversity of Calcutta v. Rabindra Neth Adhikari and
Excerpt:
- .....by en order dated the 29th september, 1966, the said appellate collector of customs after giving personal hearing rejected the claim of the petitioner. from that order of the appellate collector, mr. banerji's client went up to the central government in revision and asked for personal hearing, but the said commissioner of revision application without giving a hearing to the appellants rejected their application.3. mr, banerji submits that firstly the reasons given by the commissioner in his order, copy of which is annexure 'e' to the petition the commissioner has rejected the appeal on different grounds end not on the grounds by which the said appeal was rejected by the lower appellate collector of customs as would be found in the order, being annexures 'c' and 'd' to the petition.4......
Judgment:
ORDER

Ajay Kumar Basu, J.

1. This is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution taken out by the petitioner against the order passed by the Commissioner (Revision Application), Government of India and for issuance of appropriate writ.

2. The matter arises out of 'drawback of duties of customs' on the imported material, namely, copper used in the manufacture of super synthetic enamelled copper wire and subsequently exported. Mr. M. Banerji, appearing on behalf of the petitioner, contends that the Customs authorities have arbitrarily and illegally rejected his client's petition for the said drawback as contemplated under Section 75 of the New Customs Act. Mr. Banerii contends that he first claimed for the drawback before the Assistant Collector of Customs. But by the order dated the 31st December. 1965, the said Assistant Collector rejected the claim for drawback as inadmissible. From that order his client appealed to the Appellate Collector of Customs, Calcutta, for the said drawback of duties on 92 cases of super synthetic enamelled copper wire. But by en order dated the 29th September, 1966, the said Appellate Collector of Customs after giving personal hearing rejected the claim of the petitioner. From that order of the Appellate Collector, Mr. Banerji's client went up to the Central Government in revision and asked for personal hearing, but the said Commissioner of Revision Application without giving a hearing to the appellants rejected their application.

3. Mr, Banerji submits that firstly the reasons given by the Commissioner in his order, copy of which is annexure 'E' to the petition the Commissioner has rejected the appeal on different grounds end not on the grounds by which the said appeal was rejected by the Lower Appellate Collector of Customs as would be found in the order, being annexures 'C' and 'D' to the petition.

4. Mr. Banerii also submits that the revision applications being of quasi judicial nature, rule of natural justice should have been followed and the revision petition should not have been dismissed without giving a hearing to the appellant.

5. Mr. D. Sen appearing for the Central Government on the other hand, contends that the appellant cannot have a personal hearing as a matter of rightand secondly the contention of Mr. Banerji that his revision applications were rejected on different ground than the ground set forth by the Appellate Collector of Customs is not correct and he refers to the order of the Appellate Collector in annexure 'D' to the petition. Then he submits that there is not much difference in reasonings between annexure 'D' i. e. the order of the Appellate Collector and annexure 'E', i. e. the order of the Commissioner in revision.

6. But Mr. Banerji points out that annexure 'C' which is also an order of the Appellate Collector is entirely different from annexure 'E' which is the order of the Commissioner. Mr. Banerji contends that if proper hearing was given to his clients or his lawyers they could have satisfied the Commissioner.

7. I have myself considered both the orders in annexures 'C' and 'D' as also 'E' and I cannot say that the Commissioner has rejected the appeal on identical grounds as held by the Appellate Collector and there is some substance in Mr. Banerji's submissions.

8. Various cases were cited from the bar on the point of natural justice and personal hearing. Mr. Sen drew my attention to a case in : 1983ECR1667D(SC) , (F. N. Roy v. Collector of Customs, Calcutta), where Sarkar, J. as he then was at page 771 held:--

'It was then stated that the petitioner had not been given personal hearing of the appeal that he preferred to the Central Board of Revenue and the application in revision to the Government. But there is no rule of natural justice that at every stage a person is entitled to a personal hearing. Furthermore, the appeal was out of time'.

9. Similarly another case was cited by Mr. Sen. 0044/1965 : [1966]1SCR466 , (M. P. Industries v. Union of India). In the judgment Subba Rao, J., as he then was stated:

'As regards the second contention. I do not think that the appellant is entitled as of right to a personal hearing. It is no doubt a principle of natural justice that quasi-judicial tribunal cannot make any decision adverse to a party without giving him an effective opportunity of meeting any relevant allegations against him. * * * * The said opportunity need not necessarily be by personal hearing. It can be by written representation. Whe- ther the said opportunity should be by written representation or by personal hearing depends upon the facts of each case and ordinarily it is in the discretion of the tribunal'.

10. Mr. Banerji, on the other hand, cites several cases in support of his contentions. The latest case on the subject is in : 1978(2)ELT378(SC) in (Travancore Rayons Ltd. v. Union of India). By delivering judgment Shah, J., as he then was said:

'It is true that the rules do not require that personal hearing shall be given, but, if in appropriate cases where complex and difficult questions requiring familiarity with technical problems are raised, personal hearing is given, it would conduce to better administration and more satisfactory disposal of the grievances of citizens'.

11. Similarly in the case reported in : [1971]1SCR201 , (Mahabir Prasad Santosh Kumar v. State of Uttar Pradesh), the Supreme Court laid down:

'Opportunity to a party interested in the dispute to present his case on questions of law as well as fact, ascertainment of facts from materials before the Tribunal after disclosing the materials to the party against whom it is intended to use them and adjudication by a reasoned judgment upon a finding of the facts in controversy and 'application of the law to the facts found are attributes of even a Quasi-judicial determination'.

12. Similarly in another case in : AIR1970SC1310 . (Jethmal v. Union of India) G. K. Mitter, J. said:

'Our attention was also drawn to a recent decision of this Court in A. K. Kraipak v. Union of India, : [1970]1SCR457 where some of the rules of natural justice were formulated in paragraph 20 off the judgment. One of these is the well known principle of audi glteram par-tem and it was argued that an ex parte hearing without notice violated this rule'.

13. Mr. Banerji also cited a case reported in 75 Cal WN 102 where 'reasonable opportunity' has been discussed by their Lordships in the case of University of Calcutta v. Rabindra Neth Adhikari and it has been said.

'reasonable opportunity means that a person should be told all that have been found against him and should he given a reasonable opportunity to adduce any evidence either to contradict or to challenge that has been found against him'.

14. In a case : AIR1966Pat248 , it has been stated:

'I have already held that even the assessing officer has to act quasi-judi-cially, and it necessarily follows that the appellate authority exercising powers under Section 35 and the Central Government exercising powers of revision under Section 36 must also act quasi-judicially and given the petitioner a reasonable op-portunity of being heard'.

15. In paragraph 9 of the petition the petitioner has stated:

'The petitioner prays that it should be granted a personal hearing and allowed to place such other evidence either oral or documentary as may be relevant to the subject-matter of the case'.

16. Needless to say, that in spite of this prayer, no opportunity was given to the petitioner appellant to appear before the Commissioner to place his case and the appeal was disposed of ex parte.

17. There is no doubt that this was a quasi-judicial proceeding. I have considered the facts and circumstances of this case and, in my opinion, the Commissioner should have certainly given an opportunity to the petitioner to appear before him specially as I find that the grounds on which he rejected the appeal are not identical as found by the Appellate Collector of Customs.

18. In that event of the matter I make the rule absolute. The matter will be re-heard by the Commissioner of Revision Government of India, after giving a reasonable opportunity to the appellant to appear personally and/or through lawyer before him.

19. There will be no order as to costs.


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