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2022 (9) TMI 444 - Customs
Levy of penalty on customs broker - 112(a) of the Customs Act, 1962 - mis-declaration (undeclared) of imported goods - on examination it is found that the consignment contained undeclared goods and also goods which infringed IPR - HELD THAT:- Although the goods were declared as “metal Frame, building material accessories, building material gutter, screw etc.” in the Bill of Entry, on examination it was seen that more than 90% of the goods were undeclared items. Only 25 cartons out of 717 cartons contained the goods described in the Bill of Entry. The total number of cartons also exceeded the declared number of cartons and were found to be 775 cartons. There is misdeclaration and undeclaration of goods. Further, most of the undeclared goods bear the brand of reputed companies and they were found to be counterfeit products. Thus, there is infringement of IPR laws also. Though it can be seen that the appellant who is a Customs Broker has filed the Bill of Entry on the basis of the documents handed over to him by a person representing the importer, in the present case, it has to be seen that the importer is not traceable as the company’s address and GST registration shown in the documents are fake. The importer did not care to appear or attend the proceedings. He has not come forward to claim the goods.
The main argument put forward by the learned counsel for appellant is that the allegations would only be violation of CBLR, 2018 and that the Customs Broker cannot be held responsible under sec. 112(a) of the Customs Act, 1962. Though it may be true that the Customs Broker acts as per the instructions of the importer, in the present case, as the importer himself is not traceable and the address as well as GST registration reflected in the documents are found to be fake, the act of the Customs Broker in filing the Bill of Entry acquires deep introspection. The Customs Broker has a very important position and has to safeguard the interest of both the importer and the Customs - The Regulation is intended to make the clearance of export and import in a hassle-free manner for both importer/exporter and the customs. The trust embedded in the Customs Broker who has been issued a licence cannot be used in a negligent manner so as to permit undeclared / prohibited goods in large quantities.
There are no grounds to set aside the penalty imposed under sec. 112(a) of the Customs Act, 1962 on the appellant - penalty of Rs.50,000/- has been imposed on the appellant as per Order in Original dated 8.9.2020 under CBLR, 2018 - the penalty of Rs. 5,00,000/- imposed under section 112(a) of the Customs Act, 1962 is high and requires to be reduced - Appeal allowed in part.