Penalty Imposed u/s 112(b) of Customs Act on Seized Goods without Recording Statement of Assessee: CESTAT Quashes Penalty

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The Ahmedabad bench of the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) quashed the penalty imposed under section 112(b) of the Customs Act, 1962 on seized goods without recording the statement of the assessee. 

Sandeep Garg & Company, the appellant assessee was a Pre-Shipment Inspection Agency owned by its proprietor Sandeep Garg, having offices in several countries including the USA. 

The assessee appealed against the order passed by the adjudicating authority for imposing a penalty on the importer and shipping agent. 

Vikas Mehta, the counsel for the assessee contended that regarding lack of diligence or negligence against the appellant is misdirected since the assessee was based in India whereas goods were examined in the UK by their employee Bob.

Also stated that the omission or commission, if any, in failing to detect the bombshells could be on the part of Bob and not the assessee. Hence, the assessee was not liable to penalty under Section 112 (a) of the Customs Act. 

Himanshu P Shrimali, the counsel for the revenue contended that the assessee had knowingly and willingly issued incorrect certificates and the penalty imposed by the department was as per the law and liable to be sustained. 

The bench observed that the impugned order that no evidence was found on record to establish that the assessee had knowingly willingly and intentionally issued the pre-inspection certificates and there was no evidence regarding the presence of knowledge on the part of the assessee in issuing the certificates under consideration. 

A single-member bench comprising Somesh Arora (Judicial) held that the Commissioner (Appeals) could not have sustained personal penalty on the assessee under section 112 (b) or 112 (a) of the Customs Act while allowing the appeal filed by the assessee. 

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