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2023 (3) TMI 251 - SCH - Customs
Search and Seizure - Smuggling - reasons to believe - Quashing of search and seizure proceedings and all consequential proceedings, launched against the respondent/assessee - assessee had impugned the action contending that there were “no reasons to believe” in terms of Section 110 of the Central Excise Act, 1944 read with Section 123 of the Customs Act, 1962 - HELD THAT:- The power of search which in this case was resorted to, can be gathered from Section 105 of the Customs Act. Section 105 confers power to search premises if the Assistant Commissioner of Customs or Deputy Commissioner of Customs “has reasons to believe” that goods liable to confiscation or documents relevant for such proceedings are secreted in any place. In such event, the search proceedings can be authorized by the Assistant Commissioner or other official. Section 123 on the other hand enacts a burden of proof which is that where any goods to which that provision applies are seized under the Act on the reasonable relief that they are smuggled goods, the burden of proof would then shift to the person in possession of such goods to prove that they were not smuggled goods.
The basic premise of Section 105, and indeed search proceedings is the reasonable belief that some objective material exists on the official record to trigger searches. The person authorizing the search must express his satisfaction that the material is sufficient for him to conclude that search is necessary; further there should exist something to show what is such material. The mere recording that the person concerned is satisfied, without the supportive materials, therefore, is insufficient to trigger a lawful search - In the present case the concerned official who authorized the search did not refer to any information nor indeed any report on the record which was produced before the High Court.