Whether Importer can be treated as the original owner of Goods for Provisional Release of Seized Goods under Customs Act
The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in Commissioner of Customs (Import) v. Dinesh Bhabootmal Salecha [CUSTOM APPEAL (L) NO. 20820 OF 2022 dated September 8, 2022] held that for the interim release of goods under Section 110A of the Customs Act, 1962 (“the Customs Act”) the importer of the goods cannot be regarded as the “owner” of the commodities.
The Commissioner of Customs (“the Appellant”) appealed in this matter where, the Directorate of revenue put on hold two consignments under the bills of entry, which were imported in the name of M/s. Salecha Electronics Inc. (“the Respondent”). On inspection by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the consignment was found to be mis declared. So, the goods were seized under Section 110A of the Customs Act.
An application for the release of goods was filed under Section 110A of the Customs Act, which was rejected because the Respondent failed to bring any evidence on record regarding ownership of the goods in question.
The Respondent filed an appeal in the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (“the CESTAT”) which was allowed in the order dated June 23, 2022. The Tribunal held that even when an ‘owner’ had not been defined in the Customs Act yet, the term owner was deployed in the definition of an importer under Section 2(26) of the Customs Act, and by default, ownership could be claimed by an importer.
Aggrieved by this order, an appeal was made by the Appellant.
Whether or not the importer can be treated as the original owner of the goods?
The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in CUSTOM APPEAL (L) NO. 20820 OF 2022 dated September 8, 2022 held as under:
Section 110A of the Customs Act
“Provisional release of goods, documents and things seized or bank account provisionally attached] pending adjudication. –
Any goods, documents or things seized or bank account provisionally attached] under section 110, may, pending the order of the adjudicating authority, be released to the owner or the bank account holder on taking a bond from him in the proper form with such security and conditions as the adjudicating authority may require.”
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