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Right rate of Customs Duty for smuggled goods
February, 01st 2011

This was never an issue. This has now become an issue only after a Supreme Court judgment delivered on 9th December 2010 and reported in 2010(260)ELT487(SC) in the case of Commissioner of Customs (Prev.) Mumbai vs. M Ambalal & Co Supreme Court has said in this case that smuggled goods confiscated and redeemed on payment of fine in lieu of confiscation would not be allowed to avail of an exemption beca-use the goods are smuggled goods and therefore are not imported goods. The Court said the following: We are of the view that smuggled goods will not come within the definition of imported goods for the purpose of the exemption notification, for the reason, the Act defines both the expressions looking at the different definitions given to the two classes of goods: imported and smuggled, and we are of the view that if the two were to be treated as the same, then there would be no need to have two different definitions.

I beg to respectfully disagree with this conclusion of the Supreme Court. My basic proposition is that smuggled goods are very much imported goods and exemption is available to them once they are confiscated and redeemed on payment of fine in lieu of confiscation. My arguments are the following:

i) The argument of the Supreme Court is that the smuggled goods are not imported goods because smuggled goods have been defined in Section 2(39) and imported goods have been defined in Section 2(25). This argument is not correct according to me. Smuggled goods are also imported goods. The definition of imported goods is any goods brought into India from outside India. Even smuggled goods are, therefore, imported goods. Smuggled goods are a subset of imported goods. It is one type of imported goods.

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