CESTAT quashes Penalty imposed by Customs Authority for alleged carrying of Cigarette Sticks not declared in IGM as No Opportunity of Cross-Examination was given

CESTAT - Penalty - Customs Authority - cigarette sticks- IGM - taxscan

The Customs, Excise, and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT), Ahmedabad Bench quashed the penalty  imposed by Customs Authority for alleged carrying of cigarette sticks not declared in Import General Manifest (IGM) as no opportunity of cross examination was given.

These appeals have been filed by M/s. Majhar Muzaffar Hussain Sayed, Nathalal Kanjibhai Rathod and Jatin Kumar Nathalal Rathod, against imposition of penalty.

Nathala Kanjibhai Rathod and Jatin Kumar Nathalal Rathod are father and son and have been charged with dealing in the imported goods/cigarettes as alleged in the impugned OIO. DRI had visited M/s. Saurashtra CFS and checked container. On this Re-stuffing the container it was found to contain white woven PP bags containing ‘Readymade Garments’ and white PP bags containing 2 corrugated boxes with cigarettes.

The said Rs. 16,20,000/- cigarette sticks were not declared in the IGM and therefore the same were placed under seizure. During investigation the statements of various persons were recorded.

Mr. Majhar Bhai, the Counsel for the appellant contended that they had demanded the cross-examination of witnesses however the same was not allowed.

The coram of Technical Member, Raju noted that all three notices have denied any knowledge of the transaction of presence of cigarettes in the containers. There is no specific primary evidence produced by revenue, except the statements, to establish that the notices were aware of the presence of cigarettes in the container.

The Tribunal observed that since there no major evidence other than the statements has been produced about the knowledge of the appellants about presence of the cigarettes in the container. It is of paramount importance that the statements are properly tested with cross- examination.

The CESTAT held that since Cross-examination is not granted the impugned order is set aside and matters are remanded for fresh decision after giving opportunity of cross examination to the appellants. The appeals are allowed by way of remand to original adjudicating authority.

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