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2022 (8) TMI 115 - HC - Customs
Cancellation of the Custom Broker licence - forfeiture of security deposit - imposition of a penalty - Whether the Customs, Excise & Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) misdirected itself in law by holding that the timeline prescribed under regulation 20(5) of the Customs Brokers Licensing Regulations, 2013 is directory? - HELD THAT:- The issue of timelines under Regulation 17, CBLR 2018, which is pari materia to Regulation 20, CBLR 2013 are no longer res integra. This has been dealt with in a catena of judgments passed by this Court. In the matter titled OVERSEAS AIR CARGO SERVICES VERSUS COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS (GENERAL) NEW DELHI, [2016 (7) TMI 1060 - DELHI HIGH COURT], the show cause notice was issued after the lapse of ninety days from the date of receipt of the offence report and the Inquiry Report was submitted more than three years after the show cause notice was issued.
The Bombay High Court in THE PRINCIPAL COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS (GENERAL) MUMBAI VERSUS UNISON CLEARING PVT. LTD., AND OTHERS. [2018 (4) TMI 1053 - BOMBAY HIGH COURT], wherein while deciding a batch of petitions held that the time limit contained in Regulation 20 of CBLR 2013 is directory and cannot be held to be mandatory. The Court further observed that in a case where strict adherence to the timeline cannot be ensured, the principles of fairness would require that delay must be justified by giving reasons as to why the time limit was not adhered to.
It can be seen that the timelines as prescribed under various Regulations in CBLR 2018, have been consistently held by the Courts as mandatory in nature. Each timeline is sacrosanct, and the idea of prescribing a time limit by statute becomes redundant if not adhered to. Therefore, it is not just the overall timeline of 270 days (as set forth in the Circular No. 09/2010 dated 08.04.2010) that needs to be followed, but also each and every timeline as prescribed in the CBLR 2018 - the Appellant’s customs broker licence is stated to have expired in the meantime and has not been renewed.
The proceedings involving revocation of the appellant’s custom broker license, forfeiture of its security deposit and imposition of penalty, will also stand set aside - appeal allowed - decided in favor of appellant.