Vodafone Essar South vs. UOI (Bombay High Court)

DATE: (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: March 8, 2009 (Date of publication)

Click here to download the judgement (Vodafone Customs DRI Judgement)

Terror Tactics of Dept upsets High Court

Where despite the goods having been cleared on payment of customs duty as assessed under Heading 85.44 (which was supported by the order of the Commissioner (Appeals) the DRI searched the premises of the assessee and threatened that unless the differential duty payable under Heading 90.01 was paid, the directors and employees of the assessee would be arrested and the consignments confiscated HELD passing severe strictures that:

“We are clearly of the opinion that in the present case, the conduct of the D.R.I. officers is not only high handed but it is in gross abuse of the powers vested in them under the Customs Act. It is apparent that the D.R.I. officers in utter disregard to the order passed by the Commissioner of Customs (A), Mumbai have forced the petitioners to pay the amount by threat and coercion which is not permissible in law. Thus, the conduct of the D.R.I. officers in the present case in collecting the amount from the petitioners towards the alleged differential duty is wholly arbitrary, illegal and contrary to law. Having terrorised the petitioners with the threat of arrest, it is not open to the D.R.I. officers to contend that the amount has been paid by the petitioners voluntarily. We strongly condemn the high handed action of the D.R.I. officers in totally flouting the norms laid down under the Customs Act in relation to reassessment proceedings and purporting to collect the amount even before reassessment. We hope that such incidents do not occur in the future.”

See Also: Mahindra & Mahindra (judicial conscience shocked by shocking and sad state of affairs of the Dept) and Legrand (Dept’s actions calculated to undermine the dignity and majesty and impair the constitutional authority of High Court).