Mobility Services V Principal Commissioner of Customs: Unravelling a Complex Case Involving Mobility Services
The case revolves around Mobility Services, a business engaged in the export and domestic sales of technology products. A writ petition was filed by the firm due to customs-related issues concerning the seizure of goods, which led to the withholding of export incentives. The court examined the provisions of the Customs Act, particularly Section 124, which dictates the issuance of show cause notices before confiscating goods. A critical aspect is the time limit for such notices and the implications when goods are provisionally released.
Mobility Services received a significant purchase order for LED monitors. They received an advance payment and procured the goods from a domestic supplier. However, suspicions of misdeclaration and mislabelling led to the seizure of the goods by customs authorities. While part of the consignment was provisionally released, the seizure memo had been in effect for a considerable time.
Mobility Services argued that the customs department’s actions seemed inconsistent. They questioned why the second consignment, similar to the seized one, was allowed for export without issues. They also highlighted that the goods had entered the Indian market via China, and the exporter was the fifth party in the purchasing chain. This raised questions about why earlier purchasers weren’t similarly questioned.
Court’s Observations and Ruling:
The court noted amendments to the Customs Act and the relevance of the provisional release order. Emphasizing the importance of timely action, the court urged the customs department to adopt progressive measures for smoother trade processes. Considering the prolonged seizure period, the court directed the Principal Commissioner to appoint an officer for adjudication. The issuance of a notice under Section 124(a) of the Customs Act was mandated within three weeks. The entire process was to conclude within eight weeks.
The writ petition by Mobility Services shed light on discrepancies in customs actions. The case highlighted the need for consistent application of regulations and timely resolution of disputes. The court’s decision aimed to ensure fairness and transparency in customs proceedings, calling for equitable treatment of goods with similar characteristics. The complexity of the case underscores the challenges in maintaining balance within customs enforcement.