Decided on October 19,2020

Eanam Ahmed Laskar Appellant
Commissioner Of Customs (Preventive), Ner, Shillong Respondents


Ranjit More - (1.) Heard Mr. N.Dasgupta, learned counsel for the petitioner as well as Dr. N.Mozika, learned Sr. counsel for the respondent.
(2.) It is the case of the petitioner that he purchased 18.6 MT Mizoram origin betel nuts from Champhai, Mizoram. While the betel nuts were in transit from Champhai to Aizawl by two trucks, Assam Rifles personnel seized these trucks on 17-03-2020 on the highway at Kawlbem Forest Gate, Mizoram and handed over to the customs authorities, Aizawl. It is further the case of the petitioner that Mizoram is the 8th highest grower of betel nut in India, therefore, there is dispute whether the goods are indigenous or imported. However, pending adjudication, by order dated 02-07-2020 issued by Superintendent Customs Preventive Force, Champhai, at the instance of Commissioner of Customs (Prev.) NER, Shillong, the goods/betel nuts were allowed provisional release under Section 110A of the Customs Act, 1962 subject to condition that the petitioner shall deposit an amount of Rs.70.51lakh and also execute bond for 100% value of seized goods. Petitioner being aggrieved by this condition approached this Court invoking Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Petitioner has approached this Court directly as according to him, there is no alternative efficacious remedy available.
(3.) The petition is opposed by the respondents by filing affidavit in reply. The preliminary objection taken is that petitioner can approach the Central Excise, Customs and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal by way of an appeal. On merit, it is the case of the respondent that the place of seizure of the subject betel nuts is Champhai District of Mizoram which borders Myanmar and which is not a betel nut growing area. The respondents in this regard relied upon the data provided by the Mizoram Government vide letter dated 06-08-2020 which according to him clearly indicates that during the years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 there is/was no area under betel nut cultivation in Champhai District of Mizoram and the production of betel nut in Champhai district is/was nil.;

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