Singh Chhabra Vs. Union of India & Ors  INSC 1330 (25 October 1996)
O R D
have heard learned counsel for the petitioner. We do not think that it is a
case warranting interference for the reason that the appellate authority had
initially referred back the matter to the primary authority to reconsider the
matter in the light of the directions issued in that order.
reconsideration, the confiscation order has been passed in respect of the gold
and in respect of two items, i.e. FAX machine and video camera and compounding
fee was ordered. On appeal, it was confirmed and on revision it was also
confirmed. The petitioner filed a writ petition in the High Court. The High
Court in the impugned order dated January 30, 1996 summarily dismissed the writ
this special leave petition.
contended by learned counsel for the petitioner that the petitioner is entitled
to cross-examine the Panch witnesses and the Seizing Officer for the goods
seized in contravention of the FERA & Customs Duty Act and that the
opportunity has not been given. Therefore, it is violative of natural justice.
true that the petitioner had confessed that he purchased the gold had brought
it. He admitted that he purchased the gold and converted it as a Kara. In this
situation, bringing the gold without permission of the authority is in
contravention of the Customs Duty Act and also FERA. When the petitioner seeks
for cross-examination of the witnesses who have said that the recovery was made
from the petitioner, necessarily an opportunity requires to be given for the
cross-examination of the witnesses as regards the place at which recovery was
made. Since the dispute concerns the confiscation of the jewellery, whether at
conveyor belt or at the green channel, perhaps the witnesses were required to
be called. But in view of confession made by him, it binds him and, therefore,
in the facts and circumstances of this case the failure to give him the
opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses is not violative of principle of
natural justice. It is contended that the petitioner had retracted within six
days from the confession. Therefore, he is entitled to cross-examine the panch
witnesses before the authority takes a decision on proof of the offence. We
find no force in this contention.
Customs officials are not police officers. The confession, though retracted, is
an admission and binds the petitioner. So there is no need to call panch
witnesses for examination and cross-examination by the petitioner.
contended that under the Rules jewellery is exempted articles. Kara being a
symbol of the religious wear by the Sikh community, it is a jewellery exempted
from the Act and it cannot be confiscated. In view of the admission that he had
purchased gold, converted as Kara and brought as such, he necessarily used it.
Therefore, he is not entitled to the benefit of exemption. Under these
circumstances, we do not find any illegality in the order passed by the authority
Special Leave Petition is accordingly dismissed.