Decided on March 12,1986



S.Kalyanam, - (1.)THIS appeal is directed against the order of the Additional Collector of Customs, Madurai, referred to above, imposing a fine of Rs. 15,000/- in lieu of confiscation of the lorry bearing registration No. TNT 276 under Section 125 of the Customs Act, 1962, hereinafter referred to as the Act.
(2.)On 7-12-83, the Customs Preventive Officers attached to Tuticorin, noticed four persons unloading some bundles from a lorry bearing registration No. TNT 276 at Ariyakulam cross Road near Palayamkottai and loading them in a van TNI 5058. There were 8 bundles in the lorry and two in the van, and Sultan, the owner of the goods, on interrogation by the authorities admitted that the goods were Indian textiles valued at Rs. 50,000/-, meant for illicit export out of India. The goods were seized under mahazar as per law attested by witnesses and the proceedings instituted against the appellant and others, after due investigation, eventually resulted in the impugned order now appealed against.
The learned counsel for the appellant submitted that Section 115(2) of the Act would not apply to the facts and circumstances of this case. It was further urged that the adjudicating authority having found that the driver of the lorry in question, viz. S. Muthaliff, did not know the purpose for which he was asked to drive the lorry, should have also consequently released the lorry without imposition of any fine. He further urged that the owner of the lorry, the appellant herein, and the driver Muthaliff having been clearly found by the adjudicating authority under the impugned order to have had no knowledge at all about the attempted illegal export and in the absence of any material to hold that one Sultan, at whose behest the lorry was taken by the appellant's driver, was either the agent of the appellant or a person in charge of the conveyance within the meaning of Section 115(2), the adjudicating authority should have released the confiscated lorry TNT 276 without any fine.

(3.)THE learned SDR submitted that even though under the impugned order the adjudicating authority has found that neither the owner of the vehicle, viz. the appellant, nor the driver of the vehicle knew about the attempted illegal export of the goods under seizure, inasmuch as the driver has taken the vehicle on the direction of Sultan, the brother of the appellant, Sultan should be held to be the person in charge of the vehicle so as to fasten a liability on the vehicle under Section 115(2) of the Act. He also urged that confiscation proceedings are proceedings in rem and therefore once the goods under seizure are proved to be offending goods, as in the instant case, confiscability of the vehicle in question would follow automatically as a matter of sheer legal consequence. Finally the learned SDR resubmitted that the appellant has not proved to have taken reasonable precautions as enjoined on her under Section 115(2) of the Act.

Click here to view full judgement.
Copyright © Regent Computronics Pvt.Ltd.