Customs – Cestat Kolkata: Even if an importer has wrongly claimed the benefit of the exemption, it is for the department to find out the correct legal position and to allow or disallow the same – However, as Appellant’s involvement cannot be denied in respect of fraudulent import of vehicles declared as brand new vehicles, penalty is leviable, but the quantum reduced to @10% [Order attached]
Order Date – 19 December 2022
- The Appellant, Shri Charanjit Singh was issued with Show Cause Notices in respect of fraudulent import of vehicles declared as brand new vehicles of foreign origin through Kolkata Port on different dates and cleared against Bills of Entry.
- The importers paid the duty and claimed the benefit of Notification No.21/2002-CUS dated 01.03.2002. It was found that the importers availed the exemption wrongly with the help of various persons. The Adjudicating authority passed various orders and imposed penalty on different persons.
- Being aggrieve the appellant had filed an appeal.
- Whether the penalty imposed on appellant is in order?
- The Tribunal found that allegations are made that Appellant had actively participated in the operations regarding fraudulent import of the said cars and undertook the clearance of the cars from Kolkata port, where the said car was cleared as per the declaration. There was no mis-declaration at all as these documents were being forwarded from foreign countries. At the most, the Appellant has acted as mode to hand over all the documents. The Appellant is not aware about the contents of documents. The tribunal has carefully considered the Orders-in-Original, Grounds of Appeal, Oral as well as written submissions of the Appellant.
- It was also observed that the allegation of abetment charged upon on the Appellant are totally false and baseless in nature.
- The Tribunal finds that the authorities below had discussed in detail in respect of imposition of penalty on the Appellant. It is evident from the record that in some of the cases, the Appellant’s involvement cannot be denied. However, also find force in the submission of the Appellant that the quantum of penalty is quite excessive.
- It was also observed that the proceeding is hit by the bar of limitation. Availing of benefit of Notification, which the Revenue subsequently formed an opinion was not available, cannot lead to the charge of misdeclaration or mis-statement, etc. and even if an importer has wrongly claimed the benefit of the exemption, it is for the department to find out the correct legal position and to allow or disallow the same.
- However, taking the overall facts and circumstances into consideration, the quantum of penalty is reduced @10% of the penalty imposed in each case.