Decided on September 20,1961



Debabrata Mookerjee, J. - (1.) This appeal is brought from an order of Sinha J. dated June 11, 1959, whereby certain proceedings commenced by a notice or a letter issued by the Additional Collector of Customs dated September 15, 1958, were quashed by a writ in the nature of certiorari and a mandamus issued directing the Customs authorities not to give effect to the notice. The Additional Collector of Customs has accordingly appealed.
(2.) The respondents, Nihalchand Agarwala and others, are a firm, carrying on business, under the name and style of Keshrichand Nihalchand, of importing betelnuts from eastern countries. They had an import licence valid upto the 30th of September 1957 which authorised them to import betelnuts worth about Rs. 24800/- and odd. The firm had entered into an agreement with T.N. Sharma Ltd. of Penang for supply of 80 bags of betelnuts, the total value of which was Rs. 10,322 52 nP. A consignment was booked by S.S. Noreverett and the freight was insured with the National Insurance Co. Ltd. The firm's clearing Agents were instructed to prepare the Bill of Entry and to submit the same to the Customs in time to avoid demurrage. The shipping documents were received from the Bank concerned and the Clearing Agents paid on the firm's behalf Customs duty on the said 80 bags of betelnuts amounting to Rs. 18,296/25 nP. The payment was made on 4-6-1957. On the next day, the consignment was attempted to be cleared from the Port Commissioner's shed, but a part of it could not be traced. Only 26 bags were taken delivery of and the balance of 54 bags remained untraced. Eventually, the Port Commissioners issued a short-landing certificate, in the prescribed form. On the strength of this certificate, an application was made by the respondent firm for refund of proportionate, customs duty. Upon hearing the firm's representative, the Customs authorities issued a refund order on the 7th January 1958, which entitled the respondent firm to receive back a sum of Rs. 12,855/-. This order was quashed in due course and taken credit of by the firm on the 13th January 1958.
(3.) On the 15th of September 1958, the Additional Collector of Customs issued a notice to the respondent firm by which it was proposed to re-open the case for review under Section 190-A of the Sea Customs Act with a view to recover the amount which the Customs claimed had erroneously been refunded to the respondent firm. The respondents were asked to submit within ten days from the date of despatch of the letter a written representation if they wanted to make one and to inform the Customs authorities whether the firm wished to be heard in the matter.;

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