At, High Court of Judicature at Calcutta
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE SUBRATA TALUKDAR
For the Petitioner: Arijit Chakraborti, Tapan Bhanja, Nilatpal Chowdhury, Advocates. For the Respondent: R1, Pralay Kar, Sunanda Sil, R2, Manasi Mukherjee, R3, Koushik Dey, Advocates.
1. Party/Parties are represented in the order of their name/names as printed above in the cause title.
2. This is one further instance where the Petitioner/Exporter complains of the freezing of his Bank Account lying with the Respondent/Bank.
3. Mr. Chakraborti, Learned Counsel appearing for the petitioner, argues that having regard to the Authorities as reported in 2016 (332) E.L.T.77 (Cal.) In Re: Shakuntala Singh v. ADDL. DRI, Kolkata Zonal Unit and in 2016 (333) E.L.T. 267 (Cal) In Re: (Mineral Metal Centre v. Dir. General of Central Excise Intelligence), the Customs Act, 1962 (for short the 1962 Act) does not permit the Respondent/Customs or even for that matter the Added Respondents/Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to freeze the Account of the Petitioner No. 1/Company.
4. Therefore, Mr. Chakrabarti points out that the freezing of the Bank Account of the Petitioner No. 1/Company by which the Petitioner operates is business must be set aside and, the Respondents/Customs/DRI may be otherwise entitled to proceed strictly in accordance with law, i.e. under the 1962 Act.
5. Mr. Chakrabarti further argues that in the facts of the present case neither the Respondents/Customs nor the Added Respondents/DRI have put the petitioners on notice of any excess duty drawback claimed in connection with the exports in issue. Therefore, there is absolutely no justification for the Respondents to instruct the Bank to withhold the operations of the Bank Account of the Petitioners.
6. Appearing on behalf of the Added Respondents/DRI Mr. Dey, Learned Counsel relies upon the Authority of 2002 (82) ECC 750 in the matter of Rohit Kumar v. Union of India (UOI).
7. Mr. Dey submits that the Bank Account is property falling within the definition of goods under the 1962 Act.
8. Therefore, the Added Respondents/DRI acting with the Respondents/Customs are empowered to issue necessary instructions to the Respondents/Bank for protecting the revenue of the Government.
9. Mr. Dey additionally argues that the Petitioners, having responded to the summons issued against them under Section 108 of the Customs Act, are required to attend the summons which they have so far ignored. In the absence of any cooperation received from the Petitioners, the Respondents/Added Respondents/DRI/Customs are left the option to take steps against the Bank Account of the Petitioners.
10. Having considered the submissions as well as the materials placed, this Court does not intend to detain this writ petition further.
11. Accordingly, the Added Respondents/DRI shall be free to take the steps provided by law under the Summons under Section 108 of the 1962 Customs Act positively within a period of four weeks from date.
12. The petitioners shall render all co-operation to the Added Respondents/DRI qua the steps under the Summons.
13. On failure of the Respondents/Customs and the Added Respondents/DRI to take the steps within the period as directed above, the Respondent No. 1/Bank, which is represented by Ms. Sunanda Sil, Learned Advocate, shall defreeze the Bank Account of the Petitioner. However, the outer time limit, as granted above, shall not bind the Respondents/Added Respondents/Customs/DRI in the ev
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ent, for reasons to be communicated in writing to the petitioners, it is found that no cooperation is being received by the former from the latter. 14. WP No. 26783 (W) of 2017 stands accordingly disposed of. 15. Urgent Photostat Certified copy of this order, if applied for, be handed over to the parties on compliance of necessary formalities.