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Goods brought into the country without valid licence is not entitled to customs exemption, and it should be treated in the same way as smuggled goods, the SC stated in the case, Commissioner of Customs vs M/s M Ambalal & Co. In this case, a large quantity of diamonds were brought in by the firm. The authorities seized them and demanded over Rs 2 crore by way of duty for their release.

The matter was taken to the customs tribunal, which held that the goods were entitled to exemption under a 1976 notification. On appeal, the SC set aside the tribunal’s order and asserted that the goods could not be imported without a valid licence and therefore the import was not valid. Also, it was not entitled to the exemption under the notification.

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