1. This is an appeal against the order dated 18-6-1992 passed by the Collector of Customs (Appeals) New Delhi.
2. Briefly stated the facts of the case are that on 23-5-1991, 700 gms of silver and Rs. 34,500 Indian Currency were seized from a residential premises in village Satto, Jaisalmer. According to the Panchnama prepared at the time of seizure the premises belonged to Shri Gulab Singh and Shri Swaroop Singh who were not present on the spot. After the seizure, Shri Janak Singh who was working at Mount Abu claimed vide his letter dated 30-5-1991 that the seized silver and the Indian currency belonged to him. The Department issued a show cause notice to Shri Gulab Singh and Shri Swaroop Singh. In reply to the show cause notice Shri R.L. Soni, Advocate submitted that the seized silver did not belong to the noticees. He stated that the seized silver and the currency belonged to Shri Janak Singh who was working at Mount Abu at the time when the seizure was made. However, by order dated 10-2-1992 the Deputy Collector held that the seized silver and the currency as per Panchnama prepared at the time of seizure belonged to Shri Gulab Singh and Shri Swaroop Singh. He thereafter ordered confiscation of the seized silver weighing 700 gms and also ordered confiscation of the Indian currency of Rs. 34,500/-.
3. When the matter was called only Shri Pankaj Malik, Chartered Accountant was present on behalf of the appellants. None was present on behalf of the respondent. I am therefore deciding the matter on the basis of the submissions made by Shri Malik on behalf of the appellants and the records of the case. It has been submitted by the Ld. Chartered Accountant that the seized silver weighing 700 gms and Indian Currency of Rs. 34,500/- belonged to Shri Janak Singh who was, at the time of seizure, working at Mount Abu. He has stated that vide his letter appearing at page 51 of the Paper Book addressed to the Collector, Shri Janak Singh had claimed the seized silver and Indian currency of Rs. 34,500/-. He has also submitted that Shri Gulab Singh and Swaroop Singh had throughout taken a stand that the seized silver and Indian currency did not belong to them and the seized goods were recovered from the premises of Shri Janak Singh. He has contended that under these circumstances it was incumbent upon the authorities to issue a show cause notice to Shri Janak Singh and also to give him an opportunity for personal hearing. He has also submitted that Shri Janak Singh's case is that the Panchnama on which the adjudicating authority had relied was not an authentic document since the concerned witnesses were forced to sign whatever was dictated to them by the seizing officers and it was prepared at a place other than the place of seizure.
4. Having regard to the overall facts of the case and the submissions made on behalf of Shri Janak Singh, I am satisfied that this is a case in which Janak Singh should have been made a party to the proceedings and should have oeen given an opportunity for personal hearing since he was the only claimant of the seized goods and Indian currency. Having regard to these facts I set aside the impugned order and remand the matter to the Deputy Collector for de novo adjudication in accordance with law. While deciding the matter he should keep in mind the observations made in this order and he should grant personal hearing to the appellants. Since the matter is old it will be appreciated if it is decided within two months of the date of receipt of the order.