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Customs should re-assess duty paid in excess: HC
January, 02nd 2008
Desist from asking parties to move appellate authorities

The Department said that the goods had been finally assessed on declaration, and hence, the same could not be re-opened.

The Madras High Court has directed Chennai Customs to re-assess duty on a consignment of trousers (woven 60 per cent polyester 40 per cent viscose) imported by a Mumbai firm after paying duty at a higher rate on its own.

Allowing a writ petition from a firm challenging the order dated February 5, 2007 of the Assistant Commissioner of Customs defending duty assessment as it had been finally done on declaration, the court asked the Department to consider the request of the petitioner in their letter of October 12, 2006, in accordance with law.

Petitioner, Shoppers Stop Ltd, contended that at the time of filing bill of entry, they had declared that customs duty was payable at the rate of 12.50 per cent and Central excise at 16 per cent, and it was paid. Later, the petitioner came to know that such goods were exempted to the effect that duty payable would vary from 4-8 per cent only. The petitioner represented seeking re-assessment, and sought refund of the excess amount of duty paid. In reply, the Department said that the goods had been finally assessed on declaration, and hence, the same could not be re-opened.

The petitioner was informed by the Department that if they felt aggrieved with the assessment order, an appeal against the assessment might be preferred before the Appellate Authority as per the Customs Act, 1962.

The petitioner contended that Section 17 of Act required the Department to examine goods without undue delay and tested by proper officer. There was no difficulty for the respondent to re-assess the duty, and in the present case, they were not going to examine goods once again, and it was only the rate of duty to which petitioner was entitled.

Setting aside the order of respondent, Mr Justice K. Chandru, ruled that when the question of deciding the issue was available with the assessing officer, it was rather unfortunate that he should drive parties to an appellate forum. The petition was allowed.

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