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XYZ having his address at C/o. Prem Kumar Sharma Versus Union of India And Others

A writ of Mandamus by an informer of the Customs Department - Release of balance amount of reward amount due - Reward is purely an ex-gratia payment - Ex-gratia payment has to be paid in consonance with the guidelines and the scheme dated 16th April, 2004 framed by the Government of India - The informer cannot be left to the whims and caprices and /or mercy of the Respondents and/or the members of the Reward Committee - Held that:- In the present case, the Petitioner on 19th July, 2010 had provi .....

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r/ Petitioner in firstly, the gist of the information given to Mr. Rakesh Kumar Gaur, Superintendent of Customs (CIU) and subsequently in the information report dated 19th July, 2010.

The show cause notice also makes specific reference that on investigation it is found that the said containers have been imported on Bill of Lading No.859498700 showing the goods as 'Welded Mesh” and under its garb consumer items were imported thereby causing substantial and huge loss of revenue to the .....

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ccording to us and in our considered opinion, the stand taken by the Respondent authorities appears to be clearly an afterthought, taken only with a view to deprive the informer / Petitioner from his legitimate dues / payments towards his reward as per the reward policy. We may also note here that the affidavit dated 15th March, 2014 filed by the Deputy Commissioner of Customs is as vague as possible and it appears to us that the said authority is either suppressing certain vital information fro .....

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h April, 2004 mentions that the reward is purely an ex-gratia payment and cannot be claimed by anyone as a matter of right, the ex-gratia payment has to be paid in consonance with the guidelines and the scheme dated 16th April, 2004 framed by the Government of India and the informer cannot be left to the whims and caprices and /or mercy of the Respondents and/or the members of the Reward Committee.

It is manifest that the informers provide information with a legitimate expectation of .....

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n as mentioned in paragraph 5 of the said policy, given to the Reward Committee, cannot be treated as an unfettered power with the authority competent to grant rewards, which may lead to frustrate the basic intention of the Government behind framing the policy. - Decided in favour of appellant. - Writ Petition No. 1882 of 2014 - Dated:- 27-4-2015 - B. R. Gavai And A. S. Gadkari,JJ. For the Petitioner : Mr. Brijesh Pathak For the Respondent : Mr. S. P. Bharti JUDGMENT (Per A. S. Gadkari, J.) : Th .....

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illegal, without justification, null and void and for other consequential reliefs. 2. The Petitioner is an informant of the Customs Department and provides the information to the Respondents which has enabled the Respondent Department to collect huge amount of revenue in the treasury of the Government. It is contended by the Petitioner that when a person acts as an informer, he risks his security and safety, which ultimately enables the Respondent Department to garner revenue because of the dis .....

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vided by the Petitioner the Customs officials conducted raids and seized the goods. 3. It is further the case of the Petitioner that the investigation into the said case culminated into issuance of a show cause notice by the Respondent No.5 to the said importers and after adjudication of the proceedings, by an order dated 31st March, 2011 the said goods were confiscated and penalty was imposed on the importers. The Respondents subsequently paid an advance reward amount of ₹ 5 lacs to the P .....

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t of the balance reward amount and therefore, the Petitioner was left with no other alternative than to approach this Court by filing the present Petition. 4. After receipt of notice of the present Petition, Mr. Shyam Kanu Mahanta, Deputy Commissioner of Customs (CIU), Jawaharlal Nehru Customs House, Taluka Uran, District Raigad has filed a detailed affidavit in response thereto. In the said affidavit, it is stated that the department received information some time in January 2010 about smugglin .....

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t the department during watch on such imports also received information from the Petitioner on 19th July, 2010 about imports of consumer goods by concealing them in five containers. During investigation, consumer goods were found to be stuffed behind few rows of 'Welded Mesh . It is further stated that the Respondent Department investigated the matter and during investigation, it was found that due to alert, the containers which landed in February 2010 and which were initially destined to De .....

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s to the Petitioner as advance reward. That, as provided in the scheme, the matter was considered by the Reward Committee on 28th June, 2012. Though the Reward Committee was not in favour of further reward, but the matter was left open because Directorate of Vigilance was conducting enquiry. Since that investigation is over, the Reward Committee will be convened for considering the final reward to the informer or otherwise. It is further stated that the contention of the Petitioner that he is en .....

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the present Petition may be dismissed. 5. Heard Mr. Brijesh Pathak, learned counsel for the Petitioner and Mr. S.P. Bharti, learned counsel appearing for Respondent Nos.1 to 5 and also perused the record. 6. The learned counsel appearing for the Petitioner contended that the Petitioner by putting his life to risk provided information to the Respondent Custom officials and after the information was found to be true and correct which led to the seizure of the five containers, the Respondent Depart .....

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t the said containers were stuffed with consumable and electronic articles. He further contended that in view of the policy framed by the Government of India dated 16th April, 2004, the Petitioner is entitled for the entire reward amount and the Respondents cannot deny the legitimate dues of the Petitioner on flimsy grounds. He further contended that the Government of India has framed the policy with a view to unearth the evasion of customs duty at the hands of unscrupulous elements in the trade .....

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nts by placing reliance on the affidavit filed by the Deputy Commissioner of Customs. The learned counsel for the Respondents submitted that the Petitioner cannot claim the alleged balance amount of reward as a matter of right. He further submitted that paragraph 5 of the said reward policy dated 16th April, 2004 is very clear, which says that the reward is purely an exgratia payment which, subject to guidelines, may be granted on the absolute discretion of the authority competent to grant rewar .....

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s that after the information was provided by the respondents therein, except for a single amount of ₹ 2 lacs towards redemption fine no other amount either by way of custom duty, penalty or redemption fine has been realized by the Department. The imported machinery could not be confiscated or auctioned as the same had been hypothecated to financial institutions from whom the importers had taken loan. In view of the amended policy, the entitlement of the respondent, if any, could be a small .....

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four weeks and the appellant therein was further directed to determine the respondent's entitlement of balance amount of the reward and pay the same within three months. In an appeal carried out by the Department, the Division Bench only partly modified the order and issued directions for payment of ₹ 5 lacs within three weeks on the receipt of the copy of the order and a further sum of ₹ 5 lacs within three weeks thereafter. It is to be noted here that on the premise of the said .....

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ow cause notice dated 3rd December, 2010 also in unequivocal terms mentions that Specific information was received by the officers of Central Intelligence Unit about a party by name M/s. Limra Traders with respect to the five containers, numbers of which are undoubtedly tallying with the numbers provided by the informer/ Petitioner in firstly, the gist of the information given to Mr. Rakesh Kumar Gaur, Superintendent of Customs (CIU) and subsequently in the information report dated 19th July, 20 .....

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ime in January 2010 and they were acting upon the said information and therefore the Petitioner is not entitled for the balance of the reward amount. We are at pains to note that though a specific stand was taken in the affidavit that since January 2010 the Respondent Department was in receipt of the specific information, it is not disclosed that what prevented them from acting on the said information swiftly. In our considered opinion, the officers who were in receipt of the said information bu .....

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ies did not act upon so called or alleged information which was already with them. However, after the receipt of information on 19th July, 2010 from the Petitioner, they conducted the raids in the matter. We are of the opinion that, the Customs officers at this stage cannot be allowed to take a spacious plea that they were already in receipt of the information since January 2010 and therefore, the Petitioner is not entitled for further reward amount. It is to be noted here that on the basis of t .....

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March, 2014 filed by the Deputy Commissioner of Customs is as vague as possible and it appears to us that the said authority is either suppressing certain vital information from this Court and / or has filed the said affidavit without perusing the entire original record available with its office. As far as the contention raised by the Deputy Commissioner of Customs in his affidavit at paragraph No.7 that the reward is purely ex-gratia payment which may be granted on absolute discretion of the au .....

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and /or mercy of the Respondents and/or the members of the Reward Committee. It is to be noted here that the Government of India has framed the reward policy with a view to follow the same by all the concerned in its proper spirit and we are of the opinion that, the Respondents cannot be allowed to frustrate the same by giving the informer only an assurance of reward as mentioned in the schedule. It is further to be noted that the guidelines prescribed under the reward policy dated 16th April, .....

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J.) was a member, while dealing with a similar situation in PIL No.99 of 2014 (Lalan Kishor Singh v. State of Maharashtra and another), in its judgment dated 9th March, 2015 at paragraph No.5 has observed thus : Only after the petitioner gave an information to the authorities of the Sales Tax Department and only after the Sales Tax Authorities carried out the raid, the said Company has filed the returns. Had the petitioner not given the information and had the raid not been carried out by the S .....

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