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TNT India Private Limited Versus Principal Commissioner of Customs (II) And Others

2015 (10) TMI 2033 - BOMBAY HIGH COURT

Revocation of registration of Authorised courier Smuggling of Gold - Assessee contended that no SCN or notice issued setting out grounds on which registration revoked nor an opportunity of being heard is given to put forth their contentions Revenue contended that allegations are serious and it is not for the first time assessee has been involved in such incidence; thus revocation cannot be set out as unreasonable Held That:- No SCN or notice issued which states the ground of revocation of .....

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af, Mr. Sairam Subramaniam, Mr. Chakrapani Misra, Mr. Ayush Mehrotra, Mr. Vaisakh Shaji and Ms. Natasha Kachalia i/b. M/s. Khaitan and Co. For the Respondents : Mr. Pradeep S. Jetly JUDGMENT ( Per S. C. Dharmadhikari, J.) Rule. Respondents waive service. By consent, Rule made returnable forthwith. 2) We had heard both sides at length on the earlier occasion. The matter was placed today only to enable Mr. Jetly to take instructions. However, Mr. Jetly submits that the concerned officials are of t .....

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he Respondents to this Writ Petition are the Union of India and the Department of Customs and their senior officials, who are posted at the Mumbai Airport. 5) The case of the Petitioner is that the freights and parcels are distributed by it. The Petitioner is in this business since 1993 and has large turnover. Operations are carried out after the Petitioner has obtained authorisation/registration as authorised courier under the Courier Imports and Exports (Clearance) Regulations, 1998. Such a re .....

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ations thereof. 7) However, on 8th September, 2015, the Special Investigation and Intelligence Bureau of the Airport Security Customs received information of a case of gold smuggling. That is how they visited the courier cell on 9th September, 2015. An import consignment bearing the name and address of certain entity styled as importer and set out in the Petition in para 5(f) was found to be imported into India. In terms of the accompanying documents, this consignment was declared to be containi .....

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so scrutinized and it was found that certain addresses were given of Mumbai and Thane Districts. The search team of the Customs was sent to these addresses, but it was found that the premises do not belong to the proprietor of the importer firm. We are not concerned with the details of this scrutiny and verification. 8) However, the Petitioner states that for similar case and for detention of the goods in the month of May, 2015, a show cause notice dated 20th May, 2015 came to be issued and the .....

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er of suspension invokes Regulation 14 of the 1998 Regulations as amended. The Principal Commissioner states that he ordered an inquiry to determine whether the registration of the authorized courier should be revoked and if so, the ground for the same. Pending the completion of the said inquiry, the registration of the Petitioner has been suspended. 10) The only contention raised before us by Mr. Sancheti is that the order invokes Regulation 14, copy of which is at page 47 of the paper book. 11 .....

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any business. Inviting our attention to the first proviso it is submitted by Mr. Sancheti that the revocation cannot take place unless a notice has been issued to the authorized courier informing him the ground on which it is proposed to revoke the registration and giving an opportunity of making representation in writing and a further opportunity of being heard in the matter if so desired. Thus, the contention is that if the notice proposing revocation has been issued on any of the grounds enu .....

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ion (2) of Regulation 14, it is submitted that the opportunity contemplated thereby of a representation can never be said to be efficacious simply because after suspending all operations of the courier agency like the Petitioner, the authorities have adversely affected the interest of those importers who have engaged the Petitioner as their courier. Several such entities would suffer and the consignments would not be cleared simply because of the drastic action. Even otherwise, this drastic acti .....

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ng an order of suspension and without compliance with the Regulations. For these reasons, it is submitted that the order of suspension shall be set aside. 12) Mr. Jetly appearing for the Respondents, apart from urging that there is an alternate remedy of a representation under subRegulation (2) of Regulation 14, would submit that the allegations are too serious. This is not the first time that the Petitioner is found to be actively smuggling gold in the garb of seeking clearance of consignments .....

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final decision within the period stipulated by this Court. For these reasons, the Petition should be dismissed. 13) We are concerned with Regulation 14 of Courier Imports and Exports (Clearance) Regulations, 1998 . Regulation 14 reads as under: 14. Deregistration. ( 1) The Commissioner of Customs may revoke the registration of an Authorised Courier and also order forfeiture of security on any of the following grounds namely: ( a) failure of the Authorised Courier to comply with any of the condi .....

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he grounds on which it is proposed to revoke the registration and he is given an opportunity of making a representation in writing and further opportunity of being herd in the manner, if so desired: Provided further that, in case the Commissioner of Customs considers that any of such grounds against an Authorised Courier shall not be established prima facie without an inquiry in the matter, he may conduct the inquiry to determine the ground and in the meanwhile pending the completion of such inq .....

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the impugned order to the Authorised Courier and the Chief Commissioner of Customs shall, after providing the opportunity of being heard to the parties concerned, dispose of the representation as may be possible. 14) A bare perusal thereof would indicate that it deals with deregistration. It is the Principal Commissioner who has the discretion to revoke the registration of an authorised courier and also order forfeiture of security on any of the grounds, namely, (a), (b) and (c) set out above. .....

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courier shall not be established prima facie without an inquiry in the matter, he may conduct the inquiry to determine the ground and in the meanwhile pending the completion of such inquiry, may suspend the registration of the authorised courier. If the ground is not established, the suspension shall stand set aside and the registration restored. 15) In the present case, on the own showing of the Respondents, for the second incident of smuggling of gold and allegedly on 8th September, 2015, ther .....

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f the Petitioner. We do not see why if the incident is so clear and if all the details are allegedly obtained and the breach or violation of the Petitioner is apparent to the Principal Commissioner that no notice has been issued. Possibly, the reason is that the notice proposing revocation and which was for the earlier violation is yet to be taken to its logical end. In the meanwhile, the second incident occurred and it is also equally serious. If that is serious, then, an independent notice and .....

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