Decided on March 30,1960

Nazir Abdul Rahman El Nou Nou Appellant
S Venkatesan, Addl Collr , Cus Respondents


- (1.) This is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution for the issue of a writ in the nature of certiorari on the respondents calling upon them to bring up the records of the proceedings culminating in the order of confiscation of 14 gold bars under section 23 of the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act and proceedings under section 167(81) of the Sea Customs Act pending before a Magistrate at Barrackpore to have the same quashed and for other reliefs. The petitioner is one Nazir Abdul Rahman, a citizen of the United Arab Republic, ordinarily residing at Damascus, Syria, the respondents being (1) S. Venkatesan, an Additional Collector of Customs, (2) R.C. Misra, Assistant Collector of Customs, (3) the Union of India through the Collector of Customs and (4) the State of West Bengal through the District Magistrate of 24-Parganas.
(2.) The petitioner who held a Syrian Passport arrived at Dum Dum Airport on a tourist visa for India from Damascus via Beirut at about midnight on October 14, 1959. He had with him in a valise 14 gold bars weighing one kilogram each, the value whereof according to the Customs authorities exceeded Rs. 1,46,000. He came in a K.L.M. Plane with a ticket from Beirut to Calcutta and back. At the Customs barrier for examination of baggage at the airport of Dum Dum he declared that he had gold with him when he was taken to an ante room and interrogated at some length. He made out a statement in his own hand-writing and signed the same. According to this his purpose in coming to Calcutta was to obtain a visa to Hong Kong as there was no British Consulate in his country. He wanted to leave the gold in the custody of the Customs authorities at Calcutta while making preparations for his journey to Hong Kong and to take the same with him to the latter place and sell it there at some profit. He did not know anybody in Calcutta or for the matter of that in India and had been told at Karachi that he could stop at Russel Hotel while in Calcutta. In the early hours of the morning of October 15, 1959, he was allowed to leave the airport after the service of a summons on him under section 171 of the Sea Customs Act directing him to appear before the Superintendent, Preventive Service, Customs House, 15/1, Strand Road, Calcutta at 10 A.M. on October 15, 1959. The original summons produced in Court bears the acknowledgment of the service thereof over the signature of the petitioner. The name of the said Superintendent, however, does not appear on the summons. The petitioner attended at the Customs house shortly before the appointed hour when he was subjected to further interrogation by one Parnham an Inspector in the Preventive Department of the Customs authorities. According to the affidavit of R.C. Misra, the Assistant Collector of Customs, the said interrogation took place at his request and under his direction.
(3.) According to the petitioner it was Parnham who approached him and took him inside a room for interrogation where he was not only subjected to severe questioning for several hours but even assaulted with slaps and blows; he was produced before R.C. Misra at about 1 P.M. and interrogated by the said officer for sometime, as directed he called again at the Customs House at 3 P.M. and subjected to further interrogation by Parnham and other officers for a long time; he was then arrested at about 5.15 P.M. and taken to Hare Street Police Station and kept in a police lock up till at about 10.30 A.M. On October 16, 1959 when he was marched off to the Court of the Chief Presidency Magistrate of Calcutta handcuffed and on foot; he lost control of his nerves in the Customs House and had become unconscious in the Police Station. On the last mentioned day at about 4 P.M. when he was under an order of remand to jail custody by the Chief Presidency Magistrate he was handed over a letter bearing date October 15, 1959 signed by R.C. Misra. This is an annexure to the petition with the heading,- Sub :- "Sea Customs Act and the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act - importation in contravention of in guise of baggage 14 bars of gold with foreign markings weighing approximately 1200.1875 tolas valued at Rs. 1,46,432.00 np. (approximately) notice to show cause.";

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