Nothwithstanding the fact that the imported Rolls Royce car gathered dust at the Customs godown for nine long years due to non-clearance, the importer would still not be entitled to any depreciation, the Supreme Court has held.

A Bench of Justices S B Sinha and Markandeya Katju, however, granted liberty to the importer M/s M.S Shoes East Ltd to file an appropriate suit for damages against the Commissioner, Customs and other officials responsible for the delay.

The dispute related to the assessable value of a 1993 model Rolls Royce car imported by the company in 1996.

Though the company filed the “Bill of Entry” required for the clearance on August 31, 1996, the Customs authorities cleared it only on March 28, 2005 by assessing the customs duties on the basis of the date of import. The company filed an appeal in the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal challenging the assessment and argued that it was entitled to a depreciated value as the car was cleared only after nine long years.

After the tribunal dismissed the plea, the company filed the appeal in the apex court.

While agreeing that there was an unusual delay in the clearance, the Bench, however, said that under Section 14 of the Customs Act, 1962, the valuation of the car must be based on the price at the time of the import.

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