A A BEERAVOO Vs. COLLECTOR OF CENTRAL EXCISE AND CUSTOMS
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
COLLECTOR OF CENTRAL EXCISE AND CUSTOMS
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(1.)The question arising for determination in this writ application is whether Ext. P 1, an order passed by the respondent, the Collector of Central Excise and Customs, Cochin reading:
"I accordingly demand from Sri A. A. Beeravoo, L. 5 No. 1/60 Alwaye, duty as well as additional duty on 8425 Ibs. of tobacco illicitly removed from the warehouse at the rate of Rs. 1.20 per Ib. under R 160 of the Central Excise Rules, 1944. I also impose on Sri A. A. Beeravoo a personal penalty of Rs 1000/- 'Rs. One Thousand only under R.151 ibid. I order the confiscation of the 79 bags of rawa to the Central Government under the same rule. The goods will however be released and made over to the party on payment of a fine of Rs. 800/- (Rs. Eight Hundred only in lieu of confiscation within one month from the date of receipt of this order." is liable to be quashed.
(2.)This order came to be passed in the following circumstances. On the 26th of August 1960, the Deputy Superintendent of Central Excise (P&I) Trivandrum accompanied by the Inspector and the Range Officer entered the godown of the petitioner and after inspection prepared a report and mahazar. I said "inspection" because that is the stand taken up by the respondent. According to counsel for the petitioner, this amounted to a 'search & seizure' and was not warranted by the Act and / or the Rules. I shall discuss this presently. But to continue the narration, the Deputy Superintendent reported that he found 79 bags containing, what is called tobacco rawa, and 15 bags containing pathi tobacco (which is unprocessed tobacco) and another 5 Ibs. of pathi tobacco on the sieve. He, the Deputy Superintendent, conducted an experiment with 50 Ibs. of tobacco taken from the 15 bags containing pathi tobacco with a, view to find out what would he the percentage of pathi residue left on processing the pathi tobacco. According to his report, he came to the conclusion that the processing should yield 18 per cent of pathi residue. After having completed this experiment, he seized the 79 + 15 bags of tobacco, and took into custody the 5 Ibs. residue and locked up all these in a room in the godown. The petitioner complained about the method adopted and in accordance with the order passed by the Assistant Collector of Customs, Trivandrum, the Superintendent of Excise, Moovattupuzha, was deputed to further investigate the matter. This Superintendent visited the godown of the petitioner on the 16th, 17th and 27th of September 1960. Ho also submitted a report.
(3.)It must be mentioned here that both the Deputy Superintendent & the Superintendent from Moovattupuzha had determined the weights of the 79 bags of rawa tobacco and the 15 bags of pathi tobacco. The weights recorded by the Deputy Superintendent totalled 10083 Ibs. and those recorded by the Superintendent came to 9774 Ibs., a difference of over 300 Ibs. for which, there is no satisfactory explanation.
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