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2019 (5) TMI 1033

evidence of any delay on the part of the appellant in the enquiry proceedings. There is a record of inability of the presenting officer to proceed with the enquiry. The further delay in submission of the enquiry report is not justifiable - the very statements that were relied upon by the enquiry authority, and the licensing authority as well as the adjudicating authority, who imposed penalties under Customs Act, 1962, were found to be exculpatory in proceedings against the appellant for penalty under Customs Act, 1962 before the Tribunal. There is no hesitation in setting aside the impugned order - appeal allowed. - APPEAL NO: C/87404/2015 - A/85903/2019 - 15-5-2019 - Shri C J Mathew, Member (Technical) And Dr Suvendu Kumar Pati, Member (Ju .....

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Authorised Representative as the said decision has not nullified the intervals specified in the Customs Broker Licensing Regulations, 2013 and has not relegated it to mere pious intention. It is abundantly clear from the determination of Hon ble High Court that expeditious disposal of proceedings under the Regulations are a consummation devoutly to be sought for with livelihood and employment are at stake. While asserting that such disciplinary proceedings are not immune from the test of reasonable delay , it was made clear that a rigourous application of the prescribed timelines may be contrary to legislative intent as delays may occur on account of unforeseen circumstances or from a calculated attempt on the part of the license holder whi .....

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te of the absence of any inculpatory statements on the part of the perpetrators against the customs broker. Ordinarily, this should suffice to favour the appellant herein. 4. As the decision of the Hon ble High Court supra has not absolved the licensing authority of obligation to adhere to the timelines prescribed in the said Regulations, we would be failing in our responsibilities if we did not subject the proceedings to the test of compliance with the principles of natural justice. This is particularly so as any interference in the exercise of the exclusive powers to penalise customs brokers under the said Regulations is normally restricted only to the quantum, if established to be disproportionate, if the process is vitiated or if the pr .....

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ellant despite which, and notwithstanding absence of any request from the appellant for extension of time, the enquiry authority submitted its report only on 30th April 2015. It is thus seen that the delay is entirely attributable to the enquiry authority. The non-availability of documents cannot be treated as mere procedure. If documents, considered to be of relevance, were not available to the licensing authority before initiation of proceedings, there is an indication of lack of application of mind. If these are available to that authority, the appellant should have been placed on notice and these documents should have been appended to that. In any case, there is no justifiable reason for not having these documents on record. The avoidab .....

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