Customs – Cestat Mumbai: Failure to file Bill of Entry within the time due to error in ICEGATE system is not a sufficient cause to impose late fee on the Appellant – Department is directed to pay minimum litigation fee of Rs. 20,000 as compensation to the Appellant – Appeal allowed[Order attached]
Order Date – 14 December 2022
- The Appellant, M/s MIRC Electronics Ltd. had imported goods namely Remote Control for TV Brand Onida arrived at Nhava Sheva under IGM No. 2235149 on dated 24.09.2019.
- Bill of entry was filed on the next day on 25-09-2019 through ICEGATE System maintained by the Respondent-Department and required fee in the form of BCD and SWS was debited through MEIS scrip. No challan got generated in the system for which after a couple of days Appellant tried to ascertain the reason and observed that Bill of Entry got purged before payment of duty through IGST.
- Appellant was also informed that a fresh Bill of Entry was required to be filed and accordingly it did the same on 02.12.2019 but the same resulted in imposition of late fee. Appellant requested through several letters between 03.12.2019 and 12.02.2020 for waiver of late fee charges
- Assistant Commissioner vide his letter dated 27.12.2019 to the effect that their request was rejected as the late fee was liveable under Section 46(3) of the Customs Act, 1962 for filing Bill of Entry after the specified period and there would be no waiver of late fee.
- Whether the imposition of late fee under Section 46(3) of the Customs Act, 1962 is in order?
- The Tribunal observed that it is common knowledge that for various technical reasons and system errors or upon laps of time in rectifying the error shown in the ICEGATE system after submission Bill of Entry, it gets purged.
- The Tribunal also observed that bare reading of the provision of Section 46(3) of the Customs Act, 1962 would reveal that Bill of Entry is required to be filed by the next day of landing of goods in Indian Customs territory and if the same is not filed/presented within the time, so specified and the proper officer is satisfied that there was no sufficient cause for such delay the importer shall pay fees for late presentation of Bill.
- The Tribunal relied on the decision of the Hon'ble High Court of Madras in the case of M/s. Heilsa Meditec LLP Vs. Commissioner of Customs held that the provisions of the Customs Act and the Bill of Entry (Electronic Integrated Declaration and Paperless Processing) Regulations, 2018 does not contemplate purging of the Bill of Entry. In fact, the expression purging is neither found in the Act nor in the aforesaid Regulation. Therefore, question of imposing late fee charges merely because an importer files a second Bill of Entry on account of the factors mentioned above would not justify the levy of late fee charges on the petitioner.
- Hence the appeal was allowed directing the Respondent-Department to pay a minimum litigation cost of Rs. 20,000/- to the Appellant within a period of three months from the date of communication of this order.