Read Order: Sunil Dutt vs. Department of Customs, Customs Commissionerate, Ludhiana

LE Staff

Chandigarh, September 22, 2021: Dismissing the Petition filed under Section 438 of the Cr.P.C. for grant of anticipatory bail to the petitioner in complaint case pertaining to offences under the Customs Act, pending before the Department of Customs, Customs Commissionerate, Ludhiana, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has opined that there are serious allegations of causing a huge financial loss to the State Exchequer.

Herein, the petitioner, a G-Card holder, has been doing the job of liaison in movement of the files of his clients before the Customs Department, so as to get clearance of the assessment of custom duty. The petitioner had moved a file for M/s P. S. Traders, Patiala regarding importing of a consignment from Dubai.

As per the documents attached with the file, the same was cleared, however, the petitioner was not approached by the party regarding payment of the custom duty. Later on, it came to the notice of the petitioner that the importer had managed to remove the consignment from ICD without paying the custom duty.

Thereafter, in April, 2021, the Customs Department issued a notice to the petitioner under Section 108 of the Customs Act, 1962, for appearing and giving reply to the notice, however, the petitioner did not appear before the Department concerned as he was apprehending arrest.

Counsel, appearing for the petitioner, contended that on coming to know that instead of aluminium scrap, 39,60,000 cigarettes (100 mm each) of four different brands were imported without paying the custom duty, the petitioner made a representation to the Department and on his complaint, the action was initiated against the erring Custom Officers and therefore, the petitioner had been falsely nominated in this case.

It was also submitted that the petitioner was neither approached by the party directly nor he had submitted any documents for the physical examination of the goods.

On the other hand, counsel for the respondent-CBIC on the basis of affidavit filed by the Commissioner of Customs, Ludhiana opposed the prayer on the ground that the present petition praying for anticipatory bail at the stage when notice under Section 108 of the Customs Act, 1962 is issued, is not maintainable.

 The counsel also referred to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Union of India vs. Padam Narain Aggarwal and Others, wherein, in similar circumstances it was held that at the stage of issuance of a notice under Section 108 of the Customs Act, 1962, if bail is granted, it will amount to a blanket bail which is not permissible.

The Bench of Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan noted that it was apparent that the notice to the petitioner was issued on various dates w.e.f. August 12,2021, and instead of appearing before the Custom Authorities, the petitioner preferred to present his anticipatory bail application before the Court of Sessions, which was dismissed on August 24,2021.

In view of the aforesaid judgment of the Supreme Court in Padam Narain Aggarwal case (supra), the Bench opined that the present petition was not maintainable and was liable to be dismissed.

Deciding the matter, the Bench also added that even otherwise, there were serious allegations of causing a huge financial loss to the State Exchequer and therefore, even on merits, this petition was liable to be dismissed.

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