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Hari Rai & Others Versus Commissioner of Trade & Taxes

2016 (2) TMI 544 - DELHI HIGH COURT

Seized goods disappeared / were stolen - Seizure of 24 cartons containing gold and silver jewellery as well as cash - It is stated that “the thela pullers and pushers, who were in-charge of the goods, ran away and in such circumstances the burden of safety and security of the detained goods became the responsibility of the Department, which was the first such experience of the branch with such eventuality”. - Held that:- The provisions of the DVAT Act are being flouted with impunity since it see .....

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the goods valued at around ₹ 4 crores are required to be detained and kept in the custody of the DT&T. This is an unfortunate instance of the DT&T being unable to ensure the safety of the detained goods, resulting in some portion of it being stolen and a criminal case having to be registered in that behalf. - The Crime Branch will pursue the investigation of aforementioned FIR to its logical end as expeditiously as feasible. - As far as the main prayer in the petition is concerned .....

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oes not call for interference. - Decided against the appellants. - W. P. (C) 3799/2014 - Dated:- 12-2-2016 - S. Muralidhar And Vibhu Bakhru, JJ. For the Petitioner : Mr. Rajesh Jain, Mr. Ramesh Johri and Mr. Virag Tiwari, Advocates. For the Respondent : Mr. Santosh Kumar Tripathi, Additional Standing counsel for GNCTD ORDER Dr. S. Muralidhar, J. 1. This writ petition has been filed by nine Petitioners in rather unusual circumstances. Of the nine Petitioners, the first two are the lawalas (cart p .....

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st March 2014 from the railway parcel van of the Ahmedabad Express which arrived at the Old Delhi Railway Station. According to the Petitioners, the said 24 cartons were meant for delivery to the seven Angadias (Petitioners 3 to 9) having been despatched by some parties in Gujarat. 3. The 24 cartons found loaded on the two thelas of Petitioners 1 and 2, were seized by the Respondent, by issuing two Goods Detention Orders ( GDOs ) dated 1st March 2014. The grievance of the Petitioner is that the .....

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ve a look at the goods. It is stated that the goods were next moved to Vyapar Bhawan, Indraprastha Estate. An inventory was stated to have prepared of the goods on 11th March 2014, during which the Petitioners were not asked to participate. It is stated that on 18th April 2014 one M/s Shaswat Jewels (P) Ltd. whose goods were purportedly carried by Bharat Kumar Praveen Kumar & Co., i.e., Petitioner No.9, made a request for release of the goods by furnishing the relevant documents like registr .....

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gadias along with one Nippon Gold made a joint representation to the Joint Commissioner, Department of Trade and Taxes to release the goods to them and also compensate them for the goods that were stolen. It is stated that with this letter the booking receipts, inventory of goods with items and value thereof and copies of the bills were enclosed. This was followed by a letter sent on their behalf by their counsel to the Joint Comissioner on 20th May 2014, requesting for inspection of the file an .....

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eized on 1st March 2014. 6. An order dated 20th May 2014, passed by the Assistant Commissioner, Enforcement-II Branch of the DT&T, declining the application dated 16th May 2014 by the Petitioners for release of the goods and to compensate the Petitioners as regards the stolen goods. Thereafter the present petition was filed praying that the Court should summon the entire record relating to the seizure, quash the GDOs dated 1st March 2014 and the order dated 20th May 2014 declining the Petiti .....

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side the Old Delhi Railway Station carrying some goods and when they could not answer a single question or produce the required documents, the 24 cartons found on the two thelas were seized under Sections 59 and 61 of the DVAT Act. The two GDOs dated 1st March 2014 were issued. It is stated that initially one Mr. Raj Kumar, claiming to be the owner of the goods, filed an application on 3rd March 2014 for their release. He, however, failed to turn up when asked to furnish the necessary documents .....

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ehicles along with the goods which are detained. Since the consignment detained on 1st March 2014 contained expensive items, it was decided to store the goods in a room attached to the conference hall at the 13th floor of Vyapar Bhawan as a strong room. Security guards were stationed there under intimation to the police. It is claimed that an inventory was prepared bundle-wise in order to avoid any mixing up of the materials and the proceedings were videographed to ensure transparency. 10. The c .....

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which cannot be decided in the present writ petition. 11. At the hearing on 10th July 2015, the Court required the Respondent to file a detailed affidavit indicating as to how and in what circumstances the seized goods disappeared/were stolen from their custody and who has been held responsible for the same and whether any action has been taken or nor . 12. Pursuant to the above order, a further affidavit was filed by one Mr. D.K. Mishra, Special Commissioner (L&J) on 31st August 2015 in whi .....

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mmissioners, two VAT Inspectors and one class IV employee were placed under suspension on 13th June 2014. An administrative enquiry was ordered by the Government of NCT of Delhi and the enquiry officer submitted her report on 25th August 2014. 13. The additional affidavit of the DT&T also adverted to the practice adopted when a search is conducted on a vehicle. The goods are matched with the records available with the vehicle-in-charge. Normally the enforcement team detains the goods or the .....

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14. At the hearing on 14th September 2015, some of the documents were handed over to the Court by the Respondent in a sealed cover. They were perused by the Court and ordered to be re-sealed and kept with the Registrar (Appellate). A notice was issued to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Central District, Delhi to submit his report with regard to FIR No. 183 of 2014, on the next date of hearing. 15. On 12th October 2015, the Court perused the status report filed in a sealed cover. The Court ob .....

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15. Today a further status report has been filed. One of the Assistant Commissioners of the DT&T, who was involved in the seizure of the goods, has been arrested on 7th December 2015. His bail application is stated to have been dismissed by the concerned Court. It is further stated that an application has been moved for narco analysis test of some of the suspects. Sanction to prosecute the arrested Assistant Commissioner has also been sought. The status report filed by the DCP, Crime Branch .....

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ct release of the goods to the Petitioners. He submitted that it was incumbent upon the CTT under Section 63(2) (c) of the DVAT Act to return the goods which have been seized to the dealer or other persons from whose custody or power they were seized . Further, this should have already happened within one month from the date of the seizure. 19. The Court notices that under Section 64 (1) of the DVAT Act, if any person on being required by the CTT, fails to give any information in respect of any .....

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ed to be treated as part of the writ petition. The writ petition itself has only three paragraphs, followed by the grounds and documents. The version of the Petitioners has, therefore, to be gleaned only from the list of dates. Even according to the Petitioners, as stated in the list of dates, the Petitioners 1 and 2 were thela pullers from whom the goods were seized by the Assistant Commissioner, Enforcement-II on 1st March 2014. A specific query was posed to Mr. Rajesh Jain, to show from anywh .....

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stated, again from the list of dates i.e. 28th February 2014, is to the following effect: In each carton, Angadias would invariably place the documents which disclose the name of the consignor and the consignee, details of the goods like quantity, description and also the value of such goods. To make out as to which carton is of which Angadia, each carton would have a mark of the Angadia s names in their short forms. Further the cartons would be tied or stitched with a rope which would be diffe .....

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ar a table showing in columns the cartons corresponding to the Petitioners 3 to 9, with value of goods and their description. Mr. Jain asserts that even today the Petitioners 3 to 9 are prepared to furnish all the relevant documents to satisfy the Respondent about their ownership. 23. There are several questions that arise in the manner in which the Petitioners 3 to 9 have gone about their tasks as angadias. The Petitioners in list of dates stated that Angadias in their normal course of business .....

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ng transported in the cartons, kept in a Railway van and were then loaded on to thelas of Petitioners 1 and 2, without being accompanied by any of the angadias. 24. From what appears from the pleadings and documents placed on record in these proceedings, it appears to the Court that this method of bringing in jewellery and cash is deployed regularly for quite some time now, obviously with help from some officials of the DT&T and even the police, and remained either undetected or allowed to c .....

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n admission appears to have no infrastructure to deal with such contingency where the goods valued at around ₹ 4 crores are required to be detained and kept in the custody of the DT&T. This is an unfortunate instance of the DT&T being unable to ensure the safety of the detained goods, resulting in some portion of it being stolen and a criminal case having to be registered in that behalf. 26. As far as the main prayer in the petition is concerned the Court is not inclined to order r .....

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ere the Court would like to observe that it would be incumbent upon the DT&T to unearth the complete facts as to how goods were despatched in the first place and from whom in Gujarat and what is the precise modus operandi adopted in despatching such valuable goods through railway vans and then through some thelawalas in Delhi. A further question which should be answered is why cash along with valuable jewellery (which was obviously uninsured) was being despatched in such a manner from one st .....

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