NATARAJ STORES TRIVANDRUM Vs. SUPERINTENDENT OF CENTRAL EXCISE TRIVANDRUM
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
NATARAJ STORES, TRIVANDRUM
SUPERINTENDENT OF CENTRAL EXCISE, TRIVANDRUM
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(1.)THE short question arising for decision is whether the ingredients of Section 167 (8) of the Sea Customs Act, 1878 read with Section 19 have been established in this case to justify the orders. Exts. P-6 and P-8 passed respectively by the first respondent, the Superintendent of Central Excise, Trivandrum, and the Collector of customs and Central Excise, Cochin, ordering the confiscation of 540 dozens of press buttons seized from the petitioner.
(2.)THE first paragraph of Section 167 (8) is in these terms: offences Section of this Penalties Act to which offence has reference. If any goods, the importation 18and19 Such goods shall be or exportation of which is for liable to confis the lime being prohibited or cation. restricted by or under chapter IV of this Act, be imported into or exported from India contrary to such prohibition or restriction. The goods that are to be confiscated must be shown to be that that have been imported into India contrary to the prohibition or restriction imposed by or under chapter IV of the Act. It is stated that the import of the goods-- the press buttons--has been restricted completely for sometime from 1953. From that alone it is not possible to conclude that the goods seized were actually imported after the restrictions have been imposed. The petitioner had purchased these goods from a madras firm. It appears to me that in order that the goods may be confiscated it must be established that the goods have been imported into India against the restrictions imposed by chapter IV. It is not enough that there has been restrictions imposed at sometime. There must be material to show that the particular goods have been imported into India after such restrictions. There is nothing in evidence in this case to indicate as to what time these goods were imported into India. As long as there is no such material, it is not possible to postulate with any amount of reasonable certainty that these goods have been imported into India after the imposition, of the restrictions and in the absence of that a penal provision, quasi criminal in nature, cannot be pressed into service against persons like the petitioner. I think the matter is concluded by more than one pronouncement of the Supreme court. Reference may be made to the decisions in Amba Lal v. Union of India, AIR 1961 SC 264 and Gian Chand v. State of Punjab, AIR 1962 SC 496. In the first of these cases, their Lord ships said :
". . . . . . . The burden of proof is on the customs authorities and they have to bring home the guilt to the person alleged to have committed a particular, offence under the said Acts by adducing satisfactory evidence".
And in the latter decision talking with reference to Corrections : Section 167 (81)of the Act, Their Lordships said :
"it will be seen from the terms of Section 167 (81) that there are two distinct matters which have to be established before a person could be held guilty of the offence there set out: (1) that the goods (in this case gold) were smuggled, i. e. , imported into the country either without payment of duty or in, contravention of any restriction or prohibition imposed as regards the entry of those goods, and (2) that the, accused knowing that the goods were of that character did the acts specified in the letter part of the provision".
(3.)IN this case we are not concerned with the second point mentioned above. But the first point mentioned must be satisfied. There is no material whatever to satisfy that first point in this case. I therefore quash Exts. P-6 and P-8. I make no order as to costs.
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