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M/s Veetrag Enterprises, Chetan Kumar Ranka, Nirmal Kumar Lunkad Versus The Commissioner of Customs (Seaport Exports)

2015 (8) TMI 781 - MADRAS HIGH COURT

Denial of Cross examination - Mis-declaration of import of goods - Principle of Natural Justice – Petitioner made representation requesting Assistant Director of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence to provisionally release goods after drawal of samples and weighment of goods, however there was no reply from respondent – Request of petitioner to cross-examine eight persons was also not granted – Held that:- rules of natural justice require that party must be given opportunity to adduce all releva .....

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the Appellant : Mr. B Satish Sundar For the Respondent : Mr. M Devendran, Sr. Standing Counsel ORDER Challenging the order passed by the respondent in Order-In-Original No.30237/2014, dated 14.10.2014, the petitioner Company have filed the present writ petitions on the ground that the said order has been passed in violation of the principles of natural justice. 2. Learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner had imported 76 packages, namely, 3800 packets of Coated G .....

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representation dated 12.01.2013 requesting the Assistant Director of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence to provisionally release the goods after drawal of the samples and weighment of goods. Even after their request to release the goods, there was no reply from the respondent, therefore, they were constrained to file Writ Petition No.3135 of 2013 before this Court seeking provisional release of the impugned goods in terms of Section 110A of the Customs Act, 1962. This Court, by order dated 19. .....

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ner, did not release the goods, they filed Writ Petition No.3655 of 2013 seeking to release goods pertaining to the Bill of Entry No.8998733, dated 10.01.2013. This Court, by order dated 02.04.2013, permitted the respondent to release the goods to the petitioner provisionally. 4. When the matter stood as above, the grievance of the petitioner is, they were called upon to show cause to the respondent as to why the declared descriptions in 29 Bills of Entry as mentioned in column No.9 of the Works .....

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.M.Siddharth Kumar of M/s.ML Oswal Enterprises, Mr.Mangi Lal of Muthua Papers, Mr.Mahendra Bafna of Mahendra Paer, Mr.Vikram Banda of Prakash Paper, Mr.Ramesh Sudha of Tanot Papers and Mr.Raja of Mariappan Papers. However, the request of the petitioner to cross-examine the above said eight persons was not granted. Therefore, he contended, such approach of the respondent is contrary to the law laid down by this Court as well as the Apex Court, more particularly, latest judgment of the Apex Court .....

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sses would violate the principles of natural justice. 5. By relying upon yet another decision of the Gujarat High Court in the case of Vulcan Industrial Engineering Co. Ltd. v. Union of India (2013 (297) E.L.T. 190 (Guj.), it is further contended that when it has been the settled legal position that any meaningful participation in the adjudicating proceedings can take place only after the cross-examination is granted to the other side, ignoring such principle, the respondent cannot proceed to de .....

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tion of the above said eight persons by the petitioner is unnecessary, as this would result in avoidable delay and would not serve the purpose of justice. It is further submitted that the act of mis-declaration, undervaluation, suppression of facts and conspiracy has been established beyond reasonable doubt by other evidences, therefore, the petitioner has no locus-standi to corss-examine the above said eight persons. 7. This Court is unable to accept the above said contention of the counsel for .....

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on merits. In this context, it is more appropriate to extract the relevant portion of the said judgment, which is as follows: "Having heard learned counsel for the parties, we are inclined to interfere on the short ground of serious breach of principles of natural justice in the process of passing final order of adjudication. We say so because the adjudicating authority, though categorically informed by the representative of the petitioners that the petitioners are serious about exercise o .....

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uctance to grant it. What we, however, find is that the petitioners had atleast a right to be told whether such application is being granted or refused before final order was passed. When the petitioners prayed for cross examination and reasonably expected that the same would be granted, they cannot be expected to participate in the adjudicating proceedings upto the final stage. In other words, without dealing with and disposing of the petitioners application for cross examination, the adjudicat .....

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opinion that the petitioners had made such a request somewhat belatedly, would not permit him to, in the facts of the present case, deal with such an application only in the final order itself. Sum total of this discussion is that we are inclined to set-aside the impugned order and request the adjudicating authority to pass a separate order on the petitioners application/request letter for granting cross examination of the named witnesses. We are conscious that the Commissioner has already decid .....

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ing cross examination of the witnesses. Once such order is passed, the Commissioner shall issue a notice to the petitioners for further hearing of the show cause notice and proceed thereafter in accordance with law." 8. While considering the value of cross-examination, the Apex Court in Ayaaubkhan Noorkhan Pathan's case (cited supra) held thus: "Cross-examination is one part of the principles of natural justice: 23. A Constitution Bench of this Court in State of M.P. v. Chintaman S .....

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