Decided on April 21,2015

Interport Impex Pvt. Ltd. Appellant
Commissioner Of Cus. (General), Mumbai Respondents


P.S.PRUTHI - (1.)THIS appeal is directed against the impugned order passed by Commissioner of Customs, Mumbai on 14 -3 -2014 revoking the Customs House Agent (CHA) License of the appellant and also ordering forfeiture of the entire amount of security deposit.
(2.)The facts of the case are that the appellant who is a CHA had accepted documents for export clearance of a consignment of Dal husk from one Mr. Anand Kursija who had submitted the authorisation letter along with a self -attested IEC of M/s. Crescent Trading and Impex Co., the importer, in the presence of a person portraying himself be this Company owner's son Mr. Rashid Khan. Accordingly the appellant filed a shipping bill dated 23 -8 -2010 for the export of the consignment. On 25 -8 -2010, unsealed containers on a trailer with the export goods were carted into the CFS. When the goods were de stuffed for examination, some of the goods were found to be non -basmati rice (prohibited goods) concealed behind the bags of dal husk. It was claimed by the appellant that on being informed by his employee Shri Ramdas Gadge about this incident, the Director Sohel Kazani informed the CFS and Commissioner of Customs on the next morning about the incident, investigations were undertaken by the Customs which resulted in the suspension of the CHA license under Regulation 20(2) of the Custom House Agent Licensing Regulations (CHALR) vide order number 32/2010, dated 8 -12 -2010 passed by the Commissioner of Customs, Mumbai. Thereafter the Commissioner of Customs vide his order number 37/2010, dated 14 -2 -2011 revoked the suspension order pending enquiry under Regulation 22 of the CHALR, 2004. The appellant was issued notice on 25 -7 -2011 under Regulation 22 for violation of Regulations 13(a), 13(d), 13(e), 13(n) and 13(o). During the enquiry proceedings, the presenting officer cross -examined the persons concerned. On completion of cross -examination and inquiry, he came to the conclusion that Violation of Regulations 13(a), 13(e) and 13(o) is not recommended as proved. Further, the enquiry officer dropped all charges as not proved. However the Commissioner of Customs disagreed with the enquiry report and issued a disagreement memo dated 3 -2 -2014. After following principles of natural justice, the Commissioner of Customs vide his order dated 14 -3 -2014 held the CHA guilty of violation of all the sub -regulations, namely (a), (d), (e), (n), (o) of Regulation 13 of CHALR, 2004 and ordered revocation of the CHA license and also forfeiture of the entire amount of security deposit. The appellant is in appeal before us against this order of the Commissioner.
Heard both sides.

(3.)THE learned Counsel very forcefully argued that the misdeclaration of the goods which was detected on opening of the container for examination, was brought to the notice of Customs by Shri Sohel Director which is evident from the mobile phone records of the Director. Further that the culprit Mr. Anand Kursija who was arrested has nowhere implicated the appellant in his statement recorded by the Customs. Regarding the alleged violation of CHALR regulations, he submitted that they had accepted the authorisation from the exporter and the IEC code of the exporter was verified by them from the DGFT website. Therefore, the Violation of Regulation 13(a) is not established. About Regulation 13(d) which requires that the CHA shall advise his client to comply with the provisions of the Customs Act, he submitted that it has nowhere been brought on record that the appellant was aware of the dubious credentials of Mr. Anand Kursija. Nor is the allegation of knowledge on his part of prohibited goods being exported, established. On the charge of Violation of Regulation 13(e) which requires the CHA to exercise due diligence to ascertain the correctness of any information which he imparts to a client, the learned Counsel contended that had it been the intention of the appellant to help the exporter to export the prohibited goods, they would not have asked for the examination of the goods on their own. Rather they helped the department to get hold of the exporter who had concealed the prohibited goods. On the violation of Regulation 13(o) which requires verification of antecedents of the exporter, it was stated that they had received the authority letter supported by the certified copy of IEC No. of the exporter which was found correct on the DGFT website and therefore, there was no reason for them to make further enquiries. Regarding the violation of Regulation 13(n) which requires the CHA to discharge duties with speed and efficiency, the plea is that they did not attempt to obtain the let export order on the same evening when the goods were carted in. The enquiry does not show that any specific Customs officer was asked to expedite the let export order. On the finding that the appellant is a habitual offender having been penalised vide order dated 19 -2 -2013 issued by the Commissioner of Customs, it was submitted that Hon'ble Tribunal vide order numbers S/730 -732/2013/CSTB/C -I, dated 6 -5 -2013 has granted stay.

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