Decided on December 19,1983

UNION OF INDIA Respondents


- (1.)By this petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Cr. M(M) 495/83 and the connected petition Cr. M(M) 456/83, Pran Nath Dhawan and his wife, Mrs. Usha Dhawan, who are standing their trial on a complaint for an offence under section 135 (1) (b) of the Customs Act, challenge a common order of the additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate holding that there was a prima facie case against both the petitioner for framing of a charge and the order of the Additional Sessions Judge dismissing their revision petitions and upholding the order of the trial court.
(2.)The petitions were filed in the following circumstances. It is alleged that on the basis of secret information a party of Customs (Preventive) officials conducted a search of the residential premises of the couple at D-140, East of Kailash, New Delhi, on August 22, 1978, allegedly leading to the recovery of 16 cameras of Japanese make, valued at Rs. 40,000/, 180 dozen nail cutters of U.S. make, valued at Rs. 7,200/-, and 18 Sarees of Japanese make, valued at Rs. 4,054/-. Some wrapers of post parcels ex-Hong Kong addressed to various persons, including Usha Dhawan, and certain other members of the family, were also allegedly recovered. The recovered articles were seized by the Customs Officers. The two petitioners were also examined by the Customs staff soon after the seizure. In the course of their statements the petitioners admitted the recoveries. They also admitted that these goods were of foreign origin and were unable to produce any authority for their importation into India or any proof with regard to the payment of the duty in relation to the goods. Both of them made certain other disclosures with regard to their trips to and from Hong Kong, as well as Kathmandu. By and large, both of them admitted that these goods were of foreign origin and had been imported into India by different persons and had been acquired by the petitioners for sale and that they had been carrying on such activity for some time. They give details of their contacts in Hong Kong and Kathmandu, as also the particulars of persons who had helped in the importation of these goods, as indeed, similar goods in the past. It is a common case of the parties that while Pran Nath Dhawan was examined in the Customs House, Mrs Usha Dhawan made her statement in her residence. It is also a common case of the parties that while the statement of Pran Nath Dhawan is in the nature of a confessional statement, there was controversy if the "admissions" illegedly made by Usha Dhawan in her statement would tantamount in law to a confession. It was also not disputed that the search and the seizure took place fairly late in the night and the statement made by Pran Nath Dhawan continued beyond the mid-night.
(3.)In support of .the complaint the Customs examined 4 witnesses. S.D. Khanna, Superintendent Customs, P.W.1 proved the complaint and the document purporting to be the sanction to file the complaint. R.K. Mehta, Air Customs Officer, P.W. 2, testified that he had recovered the various articles, and M.L. Gupta, Inspector of Customs, P.W. 4 corroborated the factum of recovery. M.L. Sobti, Superintendent of Customs, P.W. 3, who had recorded the statements of the petitioners, proved these statements on record. These are exhibits PW-3/A, PW- 3/B, PW-3/D & PW-3/F.

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