RAJESH LAPANG Vs. COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS (PREVENTIVE), NORTH EASTERN REGION
HIGH COURT OF MEGHALAYA
Commissioner Of Customs (Preventive), North Eastern Region
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BISWANATH SOMADDER,CJ. -
(1.) The instant writ petition is based on the claim of the writ petitioner, namely, Shri Rajesh Lapang, that he was the owner of certain goods (betel nuts), which were seized by the Customs authorities and later publicly auctioned. Based on such claim, he has approached this Court by filing the instant application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India seeking a mandatory direction upon the concerned Customs authorities to release the auction sale proceeds of the seized goods based on his refund application dated 22nd December, 2017. The seized goods (betel nuts) were confiscated by the Commissioner of Customs (Preventive), Shillong, and sold in public auction. The sale proceeds amounts to Rs.66,51,40/-. This amount is lying deposited with the State Bank of India, Guwahati.
(2.) An Order-in-Original was passed by the Commissioner of Customs (Preventive) dated 3rd January, 2017, which was subsequently set aside by the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal, Eastern Zonal Bench, Kolkata, in terms of its order dated 1st December, 2017. The records reveal that the writ petitioner had earlier approached this Court by filing a writ petition, being WP(C) No. 131 of 2018. In that writ petition also, the writ petitioner had applied for refund of sale proceeds of the confiscated goods which were later sold in public auction. The earlier Division Bench of this Court, while rendering its order dated 16th November, 2018, was pleased to observe, inter alia, as follows:-
"3. Petitioner in effect seeks implementation of the order of CESTAT for which he has efficacious remedy by laying motion before the CESTAT. Writ petition, as such, is not worth to be entertained is accordingly dismissed with liberty to the petitioner to seek implementation of the order of CESTAT by laying proper motion before the CESTAT.
4. Writ petition is accordingly dismissed."
(3.) The same Division Bench on that date took up a statutory appeal filed by the Customs authorities under section 130 of the Customs Act, 1962, being Customs Appeal No. 3 of 2018, in respect of the order passed by the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) dated 1st December, 2017. It appears that an issue was raised before that Bench by the respondent (being the writ petitioner herein) to the effect that the learned Tribunal had not returned any finding regarding genuineness of the claim of the so-called owner. The Division Bench in paragraph 9 of its order proceeded to observe as follows:
"9. Appeal under Section 130 of the Act of 1962 has to be maintained only when substantial questions of law will arise for determination. The contention of learned counsel for the respondent that the learned Tribunal had not returned the finding regarding genuineness of the claim of the so called owner is in the realm of evidence so cannot be looked into in this appeal because it does not constitute substantial question of law".;
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