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Customs official gets 3-month jail
September, 07th 2012

The Patna high court on Thursday ordered three months simple imprisonment to the assistant commissioner, customs (prevention division), Forbesganj, Shiv Shankar, for contempt of court and slapped a fine of Rs 2,000 on him for not complying with the court order for releasing a truck laden with betel nuts.

Earlier, while allowing a writ petitioner of Birendra Kumar Singh, the truck owner, on November 14, 2011, Justice S N Hussain had quashed the order of customs department whereby the truck laden with betel nuts was seized by the customs officials in Kishanganj on June 2, 2010. Taking into consideration the material facts put before the court, it was found that the betel nuts were not smuggled.

The petitioner's counsel, Prabhat Ranjan Dwivedi, submitted that the customs officials had started confiscation proceedings in violation of the high court order.

Justice Hussain observed that the assistant commissioner, customs, had orchestrated things and misconstrued the provisions of law to the detriment of the petitioner merely with the purpose to overreach the high court order. The court issued directive to send a copy of the court order to the Central Board of Excise and Customs for its perusal to consider the propriety of the contemnor as per relevant statute. Justice Hussain said, "The court is afraid that the said act of the contemnor may also come within the purview of corrupt practices regulations."

He observed that the customs officials, who were the opposite parties in the contempt petition, had shown their double face by first trying to justify their action of initiating confiscation proceedings even after the court verdict and, later, admitting the mistake was committed inadvertently. The claim of customs officials with regard to investigation and confiscation in this case was absolutely on frivolous and ridiculous grounds, he added. The court has issued directive to send a copy of this order to the commissioner, customs, Bihar.

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