The Supreme Court observed that there is no prescribed period of limitation for passing an order in the exercise of the power under sub-section (2) of Section 129A of the Customs Act.

The Court reiterated that even if the law does not provide for a specific period for taking a particular action, the authority vested with the power to take action must take the action within a reasonable time. However, considering the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court held that “it cannot be said that the Committee of Commissioners has taken an unreasonably long time to decide.

Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal observed, “On plain reading of Section 129A, we find that no specific time period has been prescribed for the Committee of Commissioners to exercise the power under sub-section (2) of Section 129A…In the present case, the relevant period of 10 months is covered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

AOR Manoj K. Mishra represented the appellant, while ASG N. Venkatraman appeared for the respondent.

The assessee had imported a consignment of camera stabilizer which were allegedly grossly undervalued. The goods were detained on the grounds of being mis-declared and undervalued.

The adjudicating authority rejected the declared assessable value of the goods in terms of Rule 12 of the Customs Valuation (Determination of Value of Imported Goods) Rules, 2007 (Valuation Rules) read with Section 14 of the Customs Act and ordered recovery of differential customs duty.

An order of confiscation under Section 111 of the Customs Act was passed, giving the appellant an option to redeem the goods on payment of a redemption fine. The Commissioner of Customs allowed the appellant’s appeal in the exercise of powers under sub-section (2) of Section 129A of the Customs Act. Upon appeal, the CESTAT affirmed the order of the adjudicating authority.

The Appellant had argued that the review order passed by the Committee of Commissioners under sub-section (2) of Section 129A was “hopelessly time-barred as the same was passed after a lapse of more than 10 months” from the date of the order of the Commissioner (Appeals).

Consequently, the Court held, “Considering the extraordinary circumstances prevailing in those days due to COVID-19, the decision was taken within a reasonable time.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.

Cause Title: M/s Global Technologies and Research v. Principal Commissioner of Customs, New Delhi (Import) [Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 204]


Appellant: AOR Manoj K. Mishra; Advocate A. Baskar, Umesh Dubey, Vishal, Uma Tripathi, Rahul Kumar Singh and Priya Saroj

Respondent: ASG N. Venkatraman; AOR Mukesh Kumar Maroria; Advocates B.K. Satija, H.R. Rao and Shantnu Sharma

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