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Gunwantlal Godawat vs Union Of India Custom And Central … on 22 November, 2017

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 4711-4712 OF 2011

Gunwantlal Godawat … Appellant

Versus

Union of India Another … Respondents

JUDGMENT

Chelameswar, J.

1. On 3rd and 4th June, 1965, the residential premises of the

appellant’s father were searched by the officers of the Government

of India in exercise of the authority conferred upon them under

Rule 126L(2) of the Defence of India Rules, 19621 (hereinafter

referred to as “the RULES”). They found 240 kilograms of gold (bars

etc.) buried in the house and seized it. Proceedings for confiscation

1
Rule 126L. Power of entry, search, seizure, to obtain information and to take samples.— (2) Any person authorised
Signature Not Verified

by the Central Government by writing in this behalf may—
Digitally signed by
DEEPAK MANSUKHANI

(a)
Date: 2017.11.23
11:40:05 IST enter and search any premises, not being a refinery or establishment referred to in sub-rule (1), vaults,
Reason:

lockers or any other place whether above or below ground;

(b) seize any gold in respect of which he suspects that any provision of this Part has been, or is being, or is
about to be contravened, along with the package, covering or receptacle, if any, in which such gold is found
and thereafter take all measures necessary for their safe custody.

1

were initiated. Eventually on 24.9.1966, the Collector of Central

Excise and Customs passed an order2 confiscating the seized gold

in exercise of the power under Rule 126M of the RULES on the

ground that the seized gold was held by the appellant in

contravention of Rule 126-I. A penalty of Rs.25 lakhs under Rule

126L(16) of the RULES was also imposed.

2. Aggrieved by the same, an appeal was carried by the

appellant’s father before the Gold Control Administrator which was

dismissed on 6.3.1972. The matter was carried further in a revision

before the Government of India which was also dismissed on

4.6.1979. The decision of the Government of India was challenged

in a writ petition (No.1215/79) before the Rajasthan High Court.

By a judgment and order dated 9.8.1994, the Rajasthan High Court

allowed the writ petition.

3. It appears from the said judgment that two submissions were

made before the High Court, (i) no personal hearing was given by

the Collector to the appellant’s father before the order of

confiscation was passed though a show cause notice dated

2
““Gold was required to be declared under Rule 126-I of Defence of India Rules, 1962. It was not declared. I
accordingly order absolute confiscation of 240.040 kgs. of gold, under Rule 126M of said Rules. The iron safe in
which gold was secreted is also confiscated under Rule 126M.
I hold that Shri Chhagan Lal Godavat is guilty of contravention of the provisions of the Rule 126-I of the
Defence of India Rules, 1962. He is liable to a penalty under Rule 126-L (16) of the said Rules. Taking into
consideration the gravity of the offence committed by him and in view of the fact that he hoarded a very huge
quantity of undeclared gold I impose upon him a personal penalty of Rs.25,00,000/- (Twenty five lacs).”

2
3.2.1966 was issued proposing confiscation and penalty under

Section 126M and 126L(16) of the RULES respectively, and (ii) An

opportunity to redeem the seized gold was not given.

4. The High Court accepted the submissions and remitted the

matter to the Collector (Central Excise and Customs).

The operative portion of the judgment reads as follows:-

“16. As a sequence the orders passed by the Collector dated
24.9.1966 (Annex.1), the order dated 6.3.1972 passed by the Gold
Control Administrator as well as the order dated 3/4.6.1979
passed by the Special Secretary Finance, Government of India
exercising the power of revision of the Central Government are
quashed and the matter is remitted back to the Collector, Central
Excise and Customs, New Delhi to examine the matter afresh in
the light of the observations made above after affording full
opportunity to the petitioners. The parties are directed to appear
before the Collector, Central Excise and Customs, New Delhi on
1.9.1994 whereafter the Collector shall proceed with the case
afresh and shall dispose of the matter within four months from the
date of receipt of the copy of the order as indicated above. The
matter has already been considerably delayed for over 30 years
and any further delay would amount to denial of justice to the
petitioners. It is further ordered that in the event of the appeal
being filed by the aggrieved party to the Central Excise and Gold
Control Tribunal, the Tribunal shall dispose of the same as
expeditiously as possible preferably within six months from the
date of filing of the appeal.”

5. Pursuant to the remand, by an order dated 9.12.1994, the

Collector once again ordered confiscation of the entire quantity of

(240 kilograms) gold approximately valued at Rs. 11.04 crores with

an option to the legal heirs of the appellant’s father to redeem the

gold by paying a fine of Rs. 2.5 crores.

3
“(i) I order confiscation of the 240.040 Kgs. of gold (1) Sovereigns of
gold 80.776 Kgs. (2) Passas of gold 242 Nos. 75.298.300 Kgs. (3)
Pieces of gold bars 5 Nos. 10.975.845 Kgs. (4) Gold bars of 19127
and 1992 9 nos. 72.990 Kgss.) valued at Rs. 12,50,070.41 at the
time of seizure (present approximate value Rs. 11.04 crores at the
rate of Rs. 4,600 per 10 gms. as on 07.12.1994) along with Iron
Safe used to conceal the gold seized from the house of Late Shri
Chhaganlal Godawat, under the Rule 126-M of the erstwhile
Defence of India Rules, 1962. The impugned gold along with the
Iron Safe will, however, be released and handed over to the legal
heirs of Late Shri Chhaganlal Godawat on payment of redemption
fine of Rs. 2.50 crores (Rupees Two crores fifty lacs only) in lieu of
confiscation under Rule 126-M (8) (a) of the erstwhile Defence of
India Rules, 1962. The option to redeem the same should be
exercised within three months from the date of receipt of this
order.”

The Collector further held that in view of the fact that the person

from whom the gold was seized (Chhaganlal Godawat) expired, the

levy of penalty contemplated under Rule 126L(16) of the RULES is

not called for.

6. Aggrieved by the decision of the Collector, the appellant herein

carried the matter in appeal to the Tribunal.3 The appeal was heard

by a Bench of the Tribunal consisting of two members. There was a

difference of opinion between both the members regarding the

quantum of the redemption fine. In view of the difference of

opinion, the matter was referred to the third Member. The outcome

of the entire process is that the Tribunal by its order dated 30th
3
Appeal No.C/144/95-NRB on the file of the Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal, New Delhi
against the Order-in-Original No.7/94 dated 9.12.1994 passed by the Collector of Central Excise Customs, Jaipur.

4
October 1995 finally opined that the redemption fine should be

reduced to Rs.12.5 lacs which represented the value of the gold as

on the date of the seizure. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed.

7. The Collector sought a reference under Section 82-B4 of the

Gold Control Act, 1968 on two questions of law;

“1. Whether in the matter of imposition of redemption fine, the
provisions of Section 73 of erstwhile5 Gold (Control) Act, 1968 will
apply when the gold was neither seized nor confiscated under the
Gold (Control) Act, 1968?

2. Whether the quantum of Redemption fine should be related
to market value of Gold on the date of seizure or the market value
of gold on the date of adjudication by the Commissioner of
Customs Central Excise, Jaipur?”

8. By an order dated 20.5.1996, the Tribunal referred the matter

to the Rajasthan High Court.

9. In the meanwhile, the Department filed an appeal against that

part of the Order of the Collector dated 9.12.1994 which gave an

option to the appellant to redeem the gold by paying fine of Rs. 2.5

4
Section 82-B of the Gold (Control) Act, 1968
“Section 82-B. Statement of a case to High Court. (1) The Collector of Central Excise or of Customs or the
other party may, within sixty days of the date upon which he is served with notice of an order under sec.81A, by
application in the prescribed form, accompanied, court the application is made by the other party, by a fee of
two hundred rupees require the Appellate Tribunal to refer to the High Court any question of law arising out of
such order and, subject to the other provisions contained in this section, the Appellate Tribunal shall, within one
hundred and twenty days of the receipt of such application, draw up a statement of the case and refer it to the
High Court:

Provided that the Appellate Tribunal may, if it is satisfied that the applicant was prevented by sufficient
cause from presenting the application within the period hereinbefore specified, allow it to be presented within a
further period not exceeding thirty days.

5

By the date of the Reference Application, the Gold (Control) Act, 1968 stood repealed by Act No.10 of 1990 of the
Parliament w.e.f. 6th June 1990.

5
crores in lieu of confiscation. The said appeal was dismissed on

23.5.1996.

10. It appears from the record that the Union of India filed a Writ

Petition being D.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 6295 of 1996 with an

interesting prayer as follows:-

“It is, therefore, most respectfully prayed that:-

(i) By an appropriate writ, order or direction the respondents
may be directed not to take any action with respect to getting
goods from the Petitioner Department in any manner till the
disposal of the reference petition.

(ii) Any other order or direction which the Hon’ble Court may
consider just and proper in the facts and circumstance of
case may also kindly be passed in favour of the petitioner.”

In fact it is stated at para 9(D) of the writ petition as follows:-

“D. That the petitioner department has come before the Hon’ble
Court with a limited prayer that the goods may not be released to
the respondents till the final disposal of the reference petition
which has been referred by the learned CEGAT.”

11. It appears that initially there was an interim stay6 in the said

writ petition on 20th December 1996. By an order dated 28.5.1997,

the interim stay was vacated. The operative portion of the Order

reads as follows:-

“8. We, therefore, vacate the stay Order passed on December 20,
1996 staying that operation of the Order dated October 30, 1995
passed by the CEGAT and instead direct that the petitioner shall
retain only that much quantity of the seized gold which will fetch a
sum of Rs. 2,50,00,000/- (Rupees Two Crores Fifty Lakhs ) @ Rs.

6
The order copy is not available on record

6
4600/- (Rupees Four thousand six hundred) per 10 (ten) gms of
gold and release and hand over possession of the rest of the
quantity of gold to the respondent No. 1 within one month from
today. In case the petitioner succeeds and there is any shortfall in
the recovery because of fall in price of gold, the respondent No. 1
shall make that good and if the petition is dismissed and the order
of the CEGAT is maintained the respondent No. 1 shall be entitled
to return of the gold permitted to be retained under this Order as
per the directions of this Court while finally disposing of the matter
or thereafter.”

12. The Reference came to be answered by the Rajasthan High

Court by the order dated 29.6.2009, which is the subject matter of

the instant appeal. The relevant portion reads as follows:

“19. Undeniably and undisputedly, it is the date of giving option
which is relevant for adjudging the fine and not the date of seizure.

xx xxx xxx xxx
The language of sub-rule 8 of Rule 126-M of ‘Rules, 1962’
categorically envisages that the officer adjudging may give to the
owner of the Gold an option to pay in lieu of confiscation such fine
as the said officer thinks fit. According to Wiktionary, a wiki based
open content dictionary, the meaning of term in lieu of is ‘Instead, in
place of , as a substitute for’. This meaning suggests that the
redemption fine is the substitute for the market value of the Gold.

xxx xxx xxx xxx
………., the market value of the seized Gold has to be taken on that
date when the option is given by the officer adjudging it.

20. It is revealed from the material on record that the Collector
aptly applied the market price of Gold at the rate of Rs.4,600 per
10 gms as on December 7, 1994, the date of adjudicating when the
option was given by him to the respondent and on this basis, the
price of total seized and confiscated Gold 240.040 kgs came to be
11.04 crores and the redemption fine cannot be in any way less
than this.

21. Thus, in the ultimate analysis, it is candidly recorded that
the quantity of redemption fine should be related to the market
value of gold on 7.12.1994 i.e. the date of adjudication when the
officer adjudging gave the owner of the Gold an option to pay fine
in lieu of confiscation. The amount of fine as adjudged to the tune

7
of Rs.2.5 crores was totally arbitrary and irrational as it was not
based on any sound and lawful reasoning.

xxx xxx xxx xxx

23. ……………….. the respondents are entitled to redeem the
confiscated Gold only after paying the redemption fine of Rs.11.040
crores.

24. In view of above, we deem it just and proper to direct the
authorized officer to give an option afresh following above clinching
observations to the owner of the Gold asking him to pay the
redemption fine in lieu of confiscation.”

13. For the sake of completion of the narration of facts, it must be

stated that as a consequence, the tribunal (CESTAT) passed an

order on 30.4.2010 remitting the matter to the adjudicating

Commissioner to determine the appropriate redemption fine and the

Commissioner passed an order on 16.7.2010. The relevant portion

reads:

“4. Under the circumstances, we dispose of the appeal by way of
remand to the Adjudicating Commissioner (authorized officer) to
determine appropriate redemption fine and allow the order of the
gold to redeem the gold on payment of such redemption fine. It
goes without saying that while determining the redemption fine, he
shall follow the cited order of the Hon’ble High Court dated
29.6.2009.”
xxx xxx xxx xxx

(i) An option is given to Shri Gunwant Lal Godawat and legal
heir of late Shri Chhagan Lal Godawat to pay Rs.11.04 crores
(Rupees Eleven crores and four lakhs only) in lieu of confiscation of
the gold weighing 240.040.145 kgs under the erstwhile Defence of
India Rules, 1962 within three months of receipt of this order.

(ii) In case Shri Gunwant Lal Godawat and the legal heir of late
Shri Chhagan Lal Godawat does not exercise the option of
depositing the amount of Rs.11.04 crores in the stipulated time
limit, as given above, Shri Gunwant Lal Godawat and legal heir of
late Shri Chhagan Lal Godawat shall be liable to return to the
Department immediately the gold weighing 185.145 kgs which was

8
returned to them on 2.7.94 in compliance of directions of the
Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court given in the order dated 28.05.97.”

THE HISTORY OF THE GOLD CONTROL REGIME:

14. On 26th October 1962, the President of India made a

proclamation of emergency under Article 352 of the Constitution of

India. On 28th October 1962, the President of India promulgated

the Defence of India Ordinance (4 of 1962). It was amended by

another ordinance (6 of 1962). In exercise of the power conferred

under Section 3 of the Ordinance (4 of 1962), RULES came to be

made in GSR 1465 dated 5th November 1962. By an amendment to

the RULES, Part XIIA came to be introduced by GSR 1525 dated

23rd September, 1963 with the heading ‘Gold Control’.

15. Part XIIA of the RULES contained various provisions regarding

acquisition, possession, sale etc. of gold ornaments and articles by

two defined classes under RULES 126-A(c) and (h), i.e. “dealers”

and “refiners” and persons other than dealers and refiners.

16. Both the Ordinances (4 6 of 1962) came to be repealed by

Section 48(2) of the Defence of India Act (51 of 1962)7. Section

48(2) of the Act (51 of 1962) contained a declaration that

notwithstanding the repeal, any Rules made under the repealed

7
Came into force on 15th December 1962

9
ordinance shall be deemed to have been made under the Act 51 of

1962. It contained a further declaration creating a further fiction

that Act 51 of 1962 had commenced on 26th October, 1962.

“Section 48. Repeal and saving. –

(1) The Defence of India Ordinance, 1962(4 of 1962) , and the
Defence of India (Amendment) Ordinance, 1962 (6 of 1962), are
hereby repealed.

(2) Notwithstanding such repeal, any rules made, anything done
or any action taken under the Defence of India Ordinance, 1962(4
of 1962) , as amended by the Defence of India (Amendment)
Ordinance, 1962 (6 of 1962) shall be deemed to have been made,
done or taken under this Act as if this Act had commenced on the
26the October, 1962.”

17. We need not examine the purpose for creating the fiction

under sub-section (2) because no submission in this regard is made

before us by either of the parties. We only take note of the fact that

the RULES must be deemed to have been made under Act 51 of

1962 w.e.f. 26th October 1962 though they were in fact made later

under Ordinance 4 of 1962.

18. The Defence of India Act itself was a temporary enactment.

Section 1(3) of the Act declared as follows:-

“(3). It shall remain in force during the period of operation of the
Proclamation of Emergency issued on the 26th October, 1962, and
for a period of six months thereafter.”

10
The proclamation of emergency ceased to operate on 10th January

1968. Therefore, it follows that the Defence of India Act (5 of 1962)

ceased to be in force by 9th July 1968.

19. In the year 1968, an ordinance titled The Gold (Control)

Ordinance, 1968 (6 of 68) (hereinafter referred to as ‘the

ORDINANCE’) was promulgated on 29th June, 1968.8 Section 117

of the ORDINANCE repealed the RULES. The RULES would have

lapsed on 9th July 1968 because the authority of law for the

sustenance of the RULES ceased on that day with the cessation of

the operation of the Defence of India Act (5 of 1962), but for their

repeal by Section 117 of the ORDINANCE. Since the repeal of any

rules by another statute and the consequences flowing therefrom

are not provided for either in the General Clauses Act 1897 or any

other law, it was declared in Section 117 of the ORDINANCE.

“(1) As from the commencement of this Ordinance, the provisions
of Part XII-A of the Defence of India Rules, 1962 shall stand
repealed and upon such repeal, Section 6 of the General
Clauses Act, 1897, shall apply as if the said Part were a
Central Act;

(2) Notwithstanding the repeal made by sub-section (1) but
without prejudice to the application of Section 6 of the General
Clauses Act, 1897, any notification, order, direction, appointment
or declaration made or any notice, licence or certificate issued or
permission, authorization or exemption granted or any confiscation
adjudged or penalty or fine imposed or any forfeiture ordered or

8
Parliament enacted the Gold (Control) Act, 1965 (18 of 65), which was never brought into force (for reasons not
known nor necessary to be known for the purpose of this case).

11
any other thing done or any other action taken under or in
pursuance of the provisions of Part XII-A of the Defence of India
Rules, 1962, so far as it is not inconsistent with the provisions of
this Ordinance be deemed to have been made, issued, granted,
adjudged, imposed, ordered, done or taken under the
corresponding provisions of this Ordinance.”

20. Thereafter Parliament made the Gold Control Act (45 of 1968)9

(hereinafter referred to as the GOLD ACT). The scheme of the

ORDINANCE and the GOLD ACT is more or less the same (the

details of which are not necessary for our purpose) and is

substantially similar to the scheme of the Part XIIA of the RULES.

Section 116(1) of GOLD ACT inter alia repealed the ORDINANCE.

Section 116(2) of the GOLD ACT:

“116. Repeal and savings. – (1) The Gold (Control) Act, 1965 (18 of
1965), and the Gold (Control) Ordinance, 1968 (6 of 1968), are
hereby repealed.

(2) Notwithstanding such repeal, anything done or any
action taken, including any notification, order or appointment
made, direction given, notice, licence or certificate issued,
permission, authorization or exemption granted, confiscation
adjudged, penalty or fine imposed, or forfeiture ordered whether
under the Gold (Control) Ordinance, 1968 (6 of 1968), or Part XII-A
of the Defence of India Rules, 1962, shall, in so far as it is not
inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, be deemed to have
been done, taken, made, given, issued, granted, adjudged, imposed
or ordered, as the case may be, under the corresponding provision
of this Act as if this Act had commenced on the 29th day of June,
1968.”

It can be seen from the sub-section (2) extracted above that it

creates 2 fictions. The 1st fiction provides that various things done

9
Act 45 of 68 came into force on the 1st September 1968.

12
or actions taken under the ORDINANCE or the RULES are deemed

to be things done or actions taken under the corresponding

provisions of the GOLD ACT. The 2nd fiction is that the GOLD ACT

“had commenced as on 29th June 1968”. But the GOLD ACT does not

contain a provision corresponding to that part of Section 117(1) of

the ORDINANCE dealing with the repeal of the RULES and the

consequences of such repeal.

EFFECT OF THE REPEAL OF THE RULES BY THE ORDINANCE:

21. One of the questions that is required to be examined to decide

the controversy on hand is whether the RULES stood irrevocably

repealed in the absence of a provision in the GOLD ACT similar to

Section 117(1) of the ORDINANCE?

22. The judgment of this Court in T. Venkata Reddy Others v.

State of Andhra Pradesh10, would be relevant and helpful to

answer the above question. Certain posts of part-time Village

Officers were abolished by Section 3 of an Ordinance of the then

State of Andhra Pradesh. The Legislature never replaced the

ordinance by an enactment. In the litigation that ensued therefrom,

one of the questions before this Court was whether those abolished

10
(1985) 3 SCC 198

13
part-time Village Officer posts would revive on the lapse of the

ordinance. A Constitution bench of this Court held that “the effect of

Section 3 of the Ordinance was irreversible except by express legislation”.

23. The resultant legal position is that the efficacy of the

provisions of an ordinance would not in any way be diminuted or

abrogated unless there is a subsequent countervailing legislation.

The rights and obligations created, the liabilities incurred or

acquired or suffered under an ordinance would be as enduring as

those resulting from a Statute.

24. But Venkata Reddy is declared not to be good law in view of

the law laid down in Krishna Kumar Singh Another v. State of

Bihar Others, (2017) 3 SCC 1.11 It was held:

“105.12. The question as to whether rights, privileges,
obligations and liabilities would survive an Ordinance which has
ceased to operate must be determined as a matter of construction.

The appropriate test to be applied is the test of public interest and
constitutional necessity. This would include the issue as to
whether the consequences which have taken place under the
Ordinance have assumed an irreversible character. In a suitable
case, it would be open to the court to mould the relief.”

11
105.10. The theory of enduring rights which has been laid down in the judgment in Bhupendra Kumar Bose [State
of Orissa v. Bhupendra Kumar Bose, 1962 Supp (2) SCR 380 : AIR 1962 SC 945] and followed in T. Venkata
Reddy [T. Venkata Reddy v. State of A.P., (1985) 3 SCC 198 : 1985 SCC (LS) 632] by the Constitution Bench is
based on the analogy of a temporary enactment. There is a basic difference between an Ordinance and a temporary
enactment. These decisions of the Constitution Bench which have accepted the notion of enduring rights which will
survive an Ordinance which has ceased to operate do not lay down the correct position. The judgments are also no
longer good law in view of the decision in S.R. Bommai [S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, (1994) 3 SCC 1] .

14

25. Krishna Kumar Singh dealt with a case where a series of

Ordinances were issued by the Governor of Bihar.

“13. The Ordinances promulgated by the Governor followed a
consistent pattern. None of the Ordinances was laid before the
legislature. Each one of the Ordinances lapsed by efflux of time, six
weeks after the convening of the session of the Legislative
Assembly. When the previous Ordinance ceased to operate, a fresh
Ordinance was issued when the Legislative Assembly was not in
session. The Legislative Assembly had no occasion to consider
whether any of the Ordinances should be approved or disapproved.
No legislation to enact a law along the lines of the Ordinances was
moved by the Government in the Legislative Assembly. The last of
the Ordinances, like its predecessors, cease to operate as a result
of the constitutional limitation contained in Article 213(2)(a). The
subject was entirely governed by successive Ordinances; yet
another illustration of what was described by this Court as an
Ordinance-Raj barely three years prior to the promulgation of the
first in this chain of Ordinances.”

This Court was examining the issue:

“69. The issue before the Court is of the consequence of an
Ordinance terminating on the expiry of a period of six weeks or,
within that period, on a disapproval by the legislature. … Would
the legal effects created by the Ordinance stand obliterated as a
matter of law upon the lapsing of an Ordinance or passing of a
resolution of disapproval?”

This Court took note of the fact that Venkata Reddy’s case

and two earlier cases12 which laid down the law based on the theory

12
Para 76. The “enduring rights” theory which had been applied in English decisions to temporary statutes,
was thus brought in while construing the effect of an Ordinance which has ceased to operate. In the view of
the Constitution Bench: (Bhupendra Kumar case [State of Orissa v. Bhupendra Kumar Bose, 1962 Supp (2) SCR
380 : AIR 1962 SC 945] , AIR p. 954, para 21)
“21. … Therefore, in considering the effect of the expiration of a temporary statute, it would be unsafe to
lay down any inflexible rule. If the right created by the statute is of an enduring character and has vested
in the person, that right cannot be taken away because the statute by which it was created has expired. If
a penalty had been incurred under the statute and had been imposed upon a person, the imposition of the penalty
would survive the expiration of the statute. That appears to be the true legal position in the matter.”

15
of “enduring rights” propounded by English decisions in the cases

of temporary statutes13

26. This Court in Krishna Kumar Singh opined that “the basis and

foundation of the two Constitution Bench decisions cannot be accepted as

reflecting the true constitutional position” and went on to consider the

issue afresh and finally concluded:

“92. … The enduring rights theory attributes a degree of
permanence to the power to promulgate Ordinances in derogation
of parliamentary control and supremacy. Any such assumption in
regard to the conferment of power would run contrary to the
principles which have been laid down in S.R. Bommai [S.R.
Bommai v. Union of India, (1994) 3 SCC 1] . The judgment in T.

Venkata Reddy [T. Venkata Reddy v. State of A.P., (1985) 3 SCC
198 : 1985 SCC (LS) 632] essentially follows the same logic but
goes on to hold that if Parliament intends to reverse matters which
have been completed under an Ordinance, it would have to enact a
specific law with retrospective effect. This, in our view, reverses the
constitutional ordering in regard to the exercise of legislative
power.”

It must be remembered that the abovementioned discussion of law

was in the context of an Ordinance which was never tabled before

the Legislature and lapsed by virtue of the efflux of time.

27. In our opinion, the declaration in Krishna Kumar Singh that

Venkata Reddy is no longer good law in view of the judgment in

S.R. Bommai may not make any difference to the present case. In

the case on hand, the ORDINANCES came to be repealed and

13
Wicks v. Director of Public Prosecutions, 1947 AC 362 (HL); Warren v. Windle, 102 ER 576 (KB);
and Steavenson v. Oliver, 151 ER 1024 pp. 1026-27

16
replaced by the GOLD ACT with retrospective effect from 29th June

1968, that is, from the date of promulgation of the ORDINANCE.

THE EFFECT OF THE REPEAL OF THE ORDINANCE BY THE
GOLD ACT:

28. The General Clauses Act is silent in this regard. On the other

hand, Section 3014 of the General Clauses Act deals with a situation

of a Central Act being repealed by an Ordinance. It declares (in

substance) that the same consequences that would follow the repeal

of an earlier enactment by a later enactment would also follow in

the case of repeal of an earlier enactment by a subsequent

Ordinance. The implications of Section 30 were considered by this

Court in State of Punjab v. Mohar Singh, AIR 1955 SC 84. But

the counter position is not provided under the General Clauses Act.

In the circumstances, we are only required to look into the

provisions of the Act which repeals an Ordinance. In the case on

hand, the provisions of the GOLD ACT.

Though the GOLD ACT expressly repealed the ORDINANCE, it

did not make a declaration that the RULES are repealed. But on

14
Section 30. Application of Act to Ordinances.—In this Act the expression Central Act, wherever it occurs, except
in section 5 and the word “Act” in clauses (9), (13), (25), (40), (43), (52) and (54)] of section 3 and in section 25
shall be deemed to include an Ordinance made and promulgated by the Governor General under section 23 of the
Indian Councils Act, 1861 (24 and 25 Vict., c.67) or section 72 of the Government of India Act, 1915, (5 and 6 Geo.
V. c, 61) or section 42 of the Government of India Act, 1935 (26 Geo. V. c. 2) and an Ordinance promulgated by the
President under article 123 of the Constitution.

17
that account, the peremptory nature of the repeal of the RULES by

the ORDINANCE need not be doubted for the following two reasons:

(i) The GOLD ACT while making the declaration that

the ORDINANCE is repealed provided that various

actions taken both under PART XIIA of the RULES

or the ORDINANCE are deemed to be actions taken

under the corresponding provisions of the GOLD

ACT; and

(ii) Unlike Krishan Kumar Singh, the ORDINANCE

was followed up by a legislative action which did not

disapprove the content of the ORDINANCE.

SCHEME AND PURPOSE OF THE 1ST FICTION UNDER SECTION 116:

29. The purpose of creating the 1st fiction under Section 116,

according to us, is to declare that the rights and obligations flowing

from the adjudgment of confiscation would be those specified in the

GOLD ACT. The purpose of the fiction is not to alter the law

applicable to the adjudgment proceedings. One of the examples of

the rights flowing from the adjudgment of confiscation of gold is a

right of appeal against the adjudgment of confiscation. Both the

RULES [Rule 126M(3) and the GOLD ACT (Sections 80 and 81)]

18
provide for appeal. While under the RULES, appeals lay to the

‘Administrator’ irrespective of the forum which adjudged the

confiscation. Under the GOLD ACT, the appellate forum varies

depending on the forum which adjudged the confiscation.

30. The fiction does not deal with the law applicable to pending

proceedings. Such a conclusion is irresistible from the language of

Section 116(2) of the GOLD ACT which says;

“the confiscation adjudged .. under … Part XIIA of the Defence
of India Rules 1962 … shall be deemed to have been adjudged …
under the corresponding provisions of this Act.”

SCHEME OF PART XIIA OF THE RULES:

31. The RULES dealt with various matters. We are only concerned

with Part XIIA titled “Gold Control” (which was inserted by an

Amendment dated 09.01.1963), because the seizure and

confiscation of gold which is the subject matter of these appeals

arose out of the operation of Part XIIA of the RULES.

32. Various Rules in Part XIIA dealt with the regulation of the

activity of three classes of persons (i) dealers, (ii) refiners, and (iii)

others who own or possess gold. The expressions ‘dealer’ and

‘refiner’ are defined expressions under Rule 126-A(c) and (h)

respectively. Chapter V of Part XIIA dealt with the regulation of

19
persons other than dealers and refiners who own gold (hereinafter

referred to as PERSONS for the sake of convenience).

33. Under Rule 126-I, PERSONS were required to make a

declaration within a period stipulated therein. The declaration is

required to contain, the quantity, description and other prescribed

particulars of gold (other than ornaments) owned by a PERSON.

Sub-rule (3) stipulated that PERSONS shall not acquire any gold

other than ornaments except either by succession or in accordance

with a permit granted under the RULES. Sub-rule (4) mandated

that if a PERSON either acquires or parts with any quantity of gold

subsequent to a declaration made by him, such PERSON is

required to make a further declaration giving the particulars

thereof.

34. Rule 126-L(2) provided the authority of law (obviously for the

officers entrusted with responsibility of the enforcement of the

RULES) to enter and search any premises of PERSONS and seize

gold if found therein, if it is suspected that any provision of Part

XIIA “has been or is being or is about to be contravened” with respect to

the gold found.

20

35. Rule 126-M provided for ‘confiscation’ of the gold seized under

Rule 126-L. Rule provided that a confiscation is required to be

‘adjudged’. The expression ‘adjudged’ is not defined but, having

regard to the scheme of the Rules mentioned above, the only

possible meaning that can be ascribed to that word is that

adjudgment is a proceeding by which the liability for confiscation

arising out of the provisions of Part XIIA of the gold seized is

required to be determined. It appears from the scheme, the liability

for confiscation of the gold found in searched premises arises from

the fact that “there has been or is being or is about to be” a

contravention of any provision of Part XIIA. In other words,

adjudgment is nothing but a process of establishing the facts

relevant for arriving at a conclusion that “there has been or is being

or is about to be” a contravention of any one of the Rules contained

in Part XIIA. Goes without saying that adjudgment is a quasi

judicial proceeding.

36. The expression ‘confiscation’ is not defined in the RULES. It

had roots in the latin word Confiscare – to consign to fiscus i.e.

transfer to treasury, as a punishment or in enforcement of law.

Though, the expression is generally understood as having

implications associated with a crime. However, it is now well settled

21
at least by two15 earlier judgments of this Court that the liability for

confiscation of property could be purely civil in nature as a

consequence of the violation of some prescription of law commonly

described as ‘forfeiture’. The words ‘forfeiture’ and ‘confiscation’

have come to be used interchangeably.

The General Clauses Act, 1972 does not employ the word

‘confiscation’. On the other hand, it employs the word ‘forfeiture’ in

Section 6(d)16. Having regard to the long history of the usage of

those two expressions, we are of the opinion that ‘forfeiture’ is an

expression which takes within its sweep ‘confiscation’ also for the

purpose of law17.

37. Rule 126-P provided for penalties. The sub-rules insofar as it

is relevant for the facts of the present case are Rule 126P(1)(i) and

(2)(ii)18, the first of which stipulated that any PERSON either fails or

omits to make any return required under Rule 126-I without any

reasonable cause or makes a false statement in the return filed

15
The State of West Bengal Vs. S.K. Ghosh AIR 1963 SC 255
Biswanath Bhattacharya Vs. Union of India (2014) 4 SCC 392
16
Section 6(d) affect any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred in respect of any offence committed against
any enactment so repealed; or
17
Raja Saliqram Vs. Secretary of State of India in Council, 1874 12 Bengal LR 167, at page 182
18
Rule 126P. Penalties—(1) Whoever,—(i) fails or omits to make any return including a further return as required
by rule 126F or any declaration including a further declaration as required by rule 126I without any reasonable
cause, or makes any statement in such return or declaration which is false and which he either knows or believes to
be false or does not believe to be true, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one
year or with fine or with both;”.

Rule 126(2) Whoever,— (ii) has in his possession or under his control any quantity of gold in contravention of any
provision of this Part.

22
either with knowledge or belief that such statement is false is

punishable with imprisonment with a term of one year or fine or

both. Sub-rule(2)(ii) stipulates that any person who “has in his

possession or under his control any quantity of gold in

contravention of any provision of this part” shall be punishable with

imprisonment for a term of not less than six months and not more

than two years and also with fine.

38. We have indicated the content of Rule 126-P(1) only for the

limited purpose of understanding the overall scheme of the RULES

and the consequences (other than confiscation of the gold under

Rule 126M) that can visit PERSONS either owning or possessing

gold in contravention of the provisions contained in Part XIIA.

39. It can be seen from the above that possession of undeclared

gold entails two consequences – (i) liability for confiscation of such

gold, and (ii) liability for prosecution and punishment. Both the

consequences are independent though flowing from the same set of

facts.

23

40. Another relevant feature of the RULES (for the purpose of the

case on hand) is that under Rule 126-M(8)19, the officer adjudging

confiscation may give to the “owner of the gold” an option to pay in

lieu of confiscation such fine (popularly known as redemption fine)

as the officer thinks fit.

APPLICATION OF THE LAW TO THE FACTS OF THE CASE:

41. Confiscation of the gold of the appellant under the order (dated

24.09.1966) of adjudgment of confiscation was nothing but a

‘forfeiture’ of gold within the meaning of the expression occurring

under Section 6(d) of the General Clauses Act. The order of

forfeiture necessarily extinguished the title of the appellant in the

confiscated gold and obliged the appellant to part with the gold.

Correspondingly the Union of India acquired title to that gold. In

other words, the appellant incurred a liability to part with or forfeit

the gold. If the original confiscation order (dated 24.09.1966)

remained unchallenged or otherwise and became final, the vesting

of title in the confiscated gold in the Union of India would have been

an accomplished fact under the RULES. But the appellant

questioned the legality of the order of confiscation before the

19
Rule 126M(8) (a) Whenever confiscation of any gold is authorised by this Part, the officer adjudging it may give
to the owner of the gold an option to pay in lieu of confiscation such fine as the said officer thinks fit.

24
‘appellate’ fora and the proceedings were pending even by the date

of the repeal of the RULES.

42. The adjudgment of confiscation was found to be not in

accordance with law by the Rajasthan High Court in Writ Petition

No.1215/79 dated 9th August 1994. The High Court had set aside

the adjudgment order and remitted the matter to the original

authority for fresh adjudgment. The High Court did not hold the

seizure of appellant’s gold was illegal. In other words, the seizure of

the gold under the RULES remained undisturbed thereby requiring

an examination of the question whether the gold is required to be

confiscated. As a result, only the adjudgment of confiscation was

required to be conducted afresh. It is a liability incurred by the

appellant. Necessarily the question arises as to what is the law in

accordance with which such adjudgment is to be made. By the

date of the judgment of the High Court, the RULES stood repealed

by the ORDINANCE which inter alia provided that Section 6 of the

General Clauses Act applies. By virtue of the operation of Section 6

of the General Clauses Act20, the adjudgment of confiscation (legal

20
“Section 6. Effect of repeal.——Where this Act, or any Central Act or Regulation made after the commencement
of this Act, repeals any enactment hitherto made or hereafter to be made, then, unless a different intention appears,
the repeal shall not—

(a) revive anything not in force or existing at the time at which the repeal takes effect; or

(b) affect the previous operation of any enactment so repealed or anything duly done or suffered thereunder; or

(c) affect any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred under any enactment so repealed;
or

25
proceeding) in respect of the seized gold made under the RULES is

required to be made afresh and appropriate further orders are to be

passed in accordance with the RULES as if the repealing

ORDINANCE had not been passed21.

43. The legal consequences which follow the repeal of the RULES

are specified in Section 117 of the ORDINANCE.

“…upon such repeal, Section 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897,
shall apply as if the said Part were a Central Act …”

Consequently, the RULES would remain unaffected in respect of the

various legal proceedings, referred to in Section 6 (e) of the General

Clauses Act, either pending or concluded and other appropriate

consequences specified in the RULES would follow.

44. But that does not solve the problem on hand. The

ORDINANCE itself came to be repealed by the GOLD ACT by the

date of the judgment of the Rajasthan High Court.

Such repeal gives rise to two questions – What is the effect of

(i) the repeal of the Ordinance 6 of 1968, and (ii) the declaration

under Section 116(2) of the GOLD ACT?

(d) affect any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred in respect of any offence committed against any enactment
so repealed; or

(e) affect any investigation, legal proceeding or remedy in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation, liability,
penalty, forfeiture or punishment as aforesaid, and any such investigation, legal proceeding or remedy may be
instituted, continued or enforced, and any such penalty, forfeiture or punishment may be imposed as if the
repealing Act or Regulation had not been passed.”
21
I.T. Commissioner Vs. Shah Sadiq Sons, (1987) 3 SCC 516, page 524 para 15

26

45. At the time of the making of the GOLD ACT, Parliament was

conscious of the existence of the RULES and their repeal by the

ORDINANCE and also the fact that various actions authorised

under the provisions of the Part XIIA of the RULES were taken or

pending. The Parliament is also conscious of the fact that the

ORDINANCE while repealing the RULES provided for the application

of Section 6 of the General Clauses Act. Pursuant to the repeal of

the ORDINANCE, the Parliament did not choose by the GOLD ACT

to disapprove such a declaration made under the ORDINANCE.

Therefore, in our opinion, it is more than public interest and

constitutional necessity as opined in Krishan Kumar Singh’s case

to hold that the RULES stood peremptorily repealed by the

ORDINANCE and on such repeal, Section 6 of the General Clauses

Act applied.

Therefore, the RULES stood peremptorily repealed by the

ORDINANCE notwithstanding the fact that the ORDINANCE itself

came to be repealed subsequently by the GOLD ACT. The repeal of

the Ordinance does not revive the RULES.

46. Now we shall deal with Question No.(ii) mentioned above i.e.,

the effect of Section 116(2), insofar as it is relevant for our purpose,

that the confiscation adjudged under Part XII-A of the RULES shall

27
be deemed to have been adjudged under the corresponding

provision22 of the GOLD ACT.

47. The question is no more res integra. This Court in Jayantilal

Amrathlal v. Union of India23 specifically dealt with the issue.

About 24.5 kgs. of gold was seized from the Jayantilal on 17th

December 1964. On 5th June 1965, a show-cause notice was

issued, calling upon Jayantilal to explain why the seized gold

should not be confiscated under Rule 126-M of the RULES. The

said notice was challenged under Article 226 in a writ petition.

During the pendency of the said writ petition, the ORDINANCE

came to be issued followed by the GOLD ACT. It was argued on

behalf of Jayantilal that notice dated 5th June 1965 could not be

enforced because it was a notice issued under the RULES which

had been repealed. The said argument was rejected.

“Para 7. In view of Section 115(2) of the Gold (Control) Act, 1968, it
was urged on behalf of the appellant that the notice issued on
June 5, 1965 can no more be operative because under the Gold
(Control) Act, 1968, there are no provisions for making a
declaration relating to the possession of primary gold. At this stage
it may be noticed that under the “Rules” every person who was in
possession of primary gold, exceeding the prescribed weight was
required to convert the same either into ornaments or sell the
same to the licensed dealers within the time prescribed by the
“Rules”. Possession of primary gold thereafter exceeding the

“Section 78. Adjudication. Any confiscation may be adjudged or penalty may be imposed under this Act – (a)
22

without limit, by a Gold Control Officer not below the rank of a Collector of Central Excise or of Customs;

(b) subject to such limits as may be specified in this behalf, by such other Gold Control Officer, not below the rank
of a Superintendent of Central Excise, as the Central Government may, by notification, authorise in this behalf.”
23
(1972) 4 SCC 174

28
prescribed limit was an offence. That period had expired long
before the Gold (Control) Act, 1968 came into force. Hence the Gold
(Control) Act naturally did not make any provision for a declaration
of the possession of primary gold. In view of that circumstance it
was urged on behalf of the appellant that the provisions in the
“Rules” requiring a declaration to be made in respect of the
possession of primary gold are inconsistent with the provisions of
the Gold (Control) Act and therefore the notice issued under the
“Rules” cannot be considered as being continued under the
provisions of the Gold (Control) Act, 1968.

Para 8. The above contention is untenable. There are no provisions
in the Gold (Control) Act, 1968 which are inconsistent with Rule
126(I)(10) of the “Rules”. That being so, action taken under that
rule must be deemed to be continuing in view of Section 6 of the
General Clauses Act, 1897. It is true that Gold (Control) Act, 1968
does not purport to incorporate into that Act the provisions of
Section 6 of the General Clauses Act. But the provisions therein
are not inconsistent with the provisions in Section 6 of the General
Clauses Act. Hence the provisions of Section 6 of the General
Clauses Act are attracted in view of the repeal of the Gold (Control)
Ordinance, 1968. As the Gold (Control) Act does not exhibit a
different or contrary intention, proceedings initiated under the
repealed law must be held to continue. We must also remember
that by Gold (Control) Ordinance, the “Rules” were deemed as an
act of Parliament. Hence on the repeal of the “Rules” and the Gold
(Control) Ordinance, 1968 the consequences mentioned in Section
6 of the General Clauses Act, follow. For ascertaining whether
there is a contrary intention, one has to look to the provisions of
the Gold (Control) Act, 1968. In order to see whether the rights
and liabilities under the repealed law have been put an end to
by the new enactment, the proper approach is not to enquire if
the new enactment has by its new provisions kept alive the
rights and liabilities under the repealed law but whether it has
taken away those rights and liabilities. The absence of a saving
clause in a new enactment preserving the rights and liabilities
under the repealed law is neither material nor decisive of the
question — see State of Punjab v. Mohar Singh [AIR 1955 SC 84 :
(1955) 1 SCR 893 : 1955 SCJ 25] and T.S. Baliah v. Income Tax
Officer, Central Circle VI, Madras [AIR 1969 SC 701 : (1969) 3 SCR
65 : (1969) 1 SCJ 890 : 72 ITR 787] .”

Therefore, it was held that the confiscation proceedings initiated

under the RULES must be concluded in accordance with the

RULES without any reference to the provisions of the GOLD ACT.

29

48. All the above analysis leads us to the following conclusions:

(1) the adjudgment of confiscation of the appellant’s

gold is required to be made only in accordance with

the RULES but not the GOLD ACT;

(2) the role of the 1st fiction created under Section 116

of GOLD ACT is limited as explained in para 29

(supra).

49. The submissions before us revolved around two questions:

(i) What is the law governing determination of the

amount of fine that could be levied and collected

from the appellant in lieu of the confiscation of gold

seized from him?;

(ii) Whether the High Court applied the correct law in

recording the conclusion that the appellant is liable

to pay an amount of Rs.11.04 crores in lieu of the

confiscation of the Gold if he so chooses?

and issues ancillary thereto.

50. It must be remembered that by order dated 9.12.94, the officer

adjudging the confiscation of gold of the appellant gave an option to

the appellant to pay a fine of Rs.2.5 crores. While deciding that

figure, the officer took note of the fact that the gold was valued at

30
Rs.12.5 lakhs at the time of its seizure and also took note of the fact

that as on 9.12.1994 (the date of adjudgment order), the gold was

valued at Rs.11.04 crores. It must be remembered that Rule 126-

M(8)(a) did not oblige the officer to determine the amount of fine on

the basis of the value of the confiscated gold either with reference to

the date of its seizure or on the date of adjudgment of confiscation.

The rule (text of it at least) conferred an unfettered discretion on the

officer to determine the amount of fine. But an unfettered

discretion and the Rule of Law are contradictions in terms. The

High Court opined at para 18;

“… Now, what shall be the quantum of fine, decision thereof has
been left to the adjudging authority and he may adjudge the fine as
he thinks fit. Of course, this decision is required to be exercised
judiciously in accordance with law or rule as the case may be but
not arbitrarily. The words “an option to pay in lieu of confiscation
such fine” are very significant and the use of the words “in lieu of”
connotes that the fine should be equivalent to the thing or Gold
confiscated by the authority.”

We are in complete agreement with the view of the High Court.

51. While it is true that the discretion conferred upon the

Authority under Rule 128M – (8)(a) is textually unfettered, it does

not lead to the inference that the discretion is absolute and uniform

with reference to the various contraventions of the RULES. The

limitations on the discretion are to be found from the scheme of the

RULES. The various RULES in the Part XIIA of the RULES make

31
various stipulations and the contravention of any one of the

stipulations can lead to the confiscation of gold. The factors which

influence the Authority’s exercise of discretion will necessarily vary

from the nature of the offence which is committed.

For instance, Rule 126–I mandates that certain PERSONS

make a declaration to the Administrator in the prescribed from. The

violation of this would entail a confiscation.

52. But Rule 126–I(2) stipulates that the declaration is required to

be made by PERSONS other than owners of the gold in certain

cases because the owners are either legally incapacitated or

judicial persons who are necessarily required to act through a

human agency. Rule 126–I(2)(a) stipulates that the declaration is to

be made by the guardian. Similarly with gold belonging to an idol24,

the declaration is to be made by the manager. In all these cases, the

declaration is to be made by a third person who is not necessarily

in possession or the owner of gold. In such circumstances, if the

declaration is not filed, the owner could not be held responsible for

the non-declaration. Therefore, the relevant factor for the exercise

24
Rule 126-I-(2)(b) in the case belonging to an idol or a deity, by the manager of such idol or deity, whether known
as shebait or manager or by any other name

(c) in the case of gold belonging to a person whose properties under the management of a Court of wards, by the
manager of such Court

(d) in the case of gold belonging to a person whose properties are under the management of any administrator or
receiver , by such administrator or receiver.

32
of the discretion is the culpability of the owner of the gold and

factors connected therewith.

53. In the same vein Rule 126–I(3)25 enjoins a person from

acquiring gold, subsequent to making a declaration, except in

certain situations contemplated therein. Sub Rule 4 and 5 lay down

the manner in which a declaration is supposed to be made by those

who acquire gold through succession, intestate or testamentary.

PERSONS not filing a declaration at all and PERSONS not filing a

further declaration under sub-Rule (3) cannot be treated on the

same footing.

54. All this just goes to show that the violations committed by

PERSONS falling under different category cannot be treated alike.

If the rule were to be applied to all these categories of PERSONS

uniformly it would result in the violation of Article 14.

55. The appellant’s case does not in our view calls for any

discretion to be exercised in his favor in the light of the totality of

25
Rule 126– I(3) No person who is either a required to make a declaration or a further declaration under this rule or
exempted from making such declaration or further declaration under sub-rule (7) thereof, shall, after the
commencement of this Part, acquire any gold other than ornament except –
(A) By succession, intestate, or testamentary, or
(B) In accordance with a permit granted by the Administrator in this behalf

33
the circumstances. The non-filing of the declaration is established

to be an absolutely calculated violation of law.26

56. Aggrieved by the determination of the fine amount of Rs.2.5

crores, the appellant carried the matter in appeal under Section 81

of the GOLD ACT. Two members of the appellate tribunal were not

able to agree upon the quantum of the fine. While the Member

(Technical – Brahma Deva) opined that the law applicable is only

Rule 126-M(8)(a) of the RULES and the RULES did not make any

reference to the value of the gold for the purpose of determining the

quantum of fine. He, therefore, opined that the quantum is entirely

the discretion of the adjudicating officer. He, however, chose to

substitute his discretion for that of the adjudicating officer by

reducing the fine to Rs.25 lakhs from Rs.2.5 crores. Whereas the

The Collector’s order of 24/09/1966 deals with the pleas taken by the Appellant regarding his non-declaration:
26

“In his Reply, Shri Chhagan Lal Godavat stated that his letters dated 26.09.1920 and 3.3.1921were written by him
when he was a minor. He contended that he did not know how to write account books. He was also not fully aware
of his “good” and “bad”. He did not even recollect which connection these letters were got(sic) written from him. He
could recollect only that these letters were written to check up the balance sheet by his ‘Munim’ Shri Rikhab Dass.
He further stated that the documents were got written under the influence of ‘Bhang’. The late ‘Munim’ Shri
RikhabDass was keeping the gold. It is likely that his mother, Smt. Birju Bai may have told about it. He expressed
his ignorance about this gold till the date of seizure. He did not know where the gold was kept. He, therefore,
submitted that he cannot be proceeded against on the basis of the letters written by him at a time when he was a
minor.

Chhagan Lal Godavat also disclosed that he and his mother had strained relations. She did not disclose the fact of
buried gold to him fearing that he might dispose it off… “
The Superintended after ascertaining the true position of the relationship of Chagganlal found that “The mother
denied there was any quarrel with her son. The house stand in the name of the ancestral firm of which Chagganlal is
the sole proprietor. The statement of the mother was recorded in the presence of Shri Chhagan Lal Godavat was also
signed the same”

34
Member (Judicial – Sankararaman) opined27 that the quantum of

fine must be “in line with Section 73 of the Gold Control Act” and,

therefore, opined that the fine amount should not exceed Rs.12.5

lakhs (the value of the gold at the time of seizure). In view of the

disagreement, the matter was referred to the third member of the

tribunal who agreed with the Member (Technical)’s view.

57. Aggrieved by the same, the respondent sought a reference

under Section 82B of the GOLD ACT to the High Court on two

precise questions, which are already noted at para 7 (supra) and, in

our opinion, the questions were rightly framed.

58. The High Court rightly came to the conclusion that the case of

the appellant is governed only by the RULES and not by Section 73

of the GOLD ACT and recorded at paras 20 and 21 of the impugned

judgment as follows:

“20. It is revealed from the material on record that the Collector
aptly applied the market price of Gold at the rate of Rs.4,600 per
10 gms as on December 7, 1994, the date of adjudicating when the
option was given by him to the respondent and on this basis, the

27
While agreeing with the approach taken by my learned brother Shri Brahma Deva for reduction of the fine amount
in lieu of confiscation, I am, however, of the view that the quantum thereof should be in line with Section 73 of Gold
Control Act after it was amended whereby redemption fine was not to exceed the value of the gold. The term
‘value’ has also been defined in the Act as the marked price on the date of seizure. Applying the said
yardstick the fine in lieu of confiscation should not exceed Rs.12.50 lakhs which was the value of the seized
goods at the time of seizure. In the circumstances, I feel that the proposed reduction of fine from Rs.2.50 crores as
determined by the Collector in the adjudication order passed de novo to a sum of Rs.25 lakhs is apparently based
upon the fact that the law has been changed from the Defence of India Rules to Gold Control Act. In view of the
matter, the subsequent development of the maximum amount of fine under Section 73 of the Gold Control Act being
reduced to the value of goods from twice that amount should also be taken into account. In that event the fine
amount in the present case should not exceed Rs.12.5 lakhs. I am of the view accordingly that the fine should be
reduced to Rs.12.5 lakhs.

35

price of total seized and confiscated Gold 240.040 kgs came to be
11.04 crores and the redemption fine cannot be in any way less
than this.

21. Thus, in the ultimate analysis, it is candidly recorded that
the quantity of redemption fine should be related to the market
value of gold on 7.12.1994 i.e. the date of adjudication when the
officer adjudging gave the owner of the Gold an option to pay fine
in lieu of confiscation. The amount of fine as adjudged to the tune
of Rs.2.5 crores was totally arbitrary and irrational as it was not
based on any sound and lawful reasoning.”

The High Court finally directed –
“24. In view of the above, we deem it just and proper to direct the
authorized officer to give an option afresh following above clinching
observations to the owner of the Gold asking him to pay the
redemption fine in lieu of confiscation.”

59. Pursuant to the order of the High Court dated 29.06.2009,

answering the reference, the tribunal made an order dated

30.04.2010 remitting the matter to the Commissioner:

“4. Under the circumstances, we dispose of the appeal by way of
remand to the Adjudicating Commissioner (authorized officer) to
determine appropriate redemption fine and allow the order of the
gold to redeem the gold on payment of such redemption fine. It
goes without saying that while determining the redemption fine, he
shall follow the cited order of the Hon’ble High Court dated
29.6.2009.”

Thereby, the Commissioner passed an order as follows:

“(i) An option is given to Shri Gunwant Lal Godawat and legal
heir of late Shri Chhagan Lal Godawat to pay Rs.11.04 crores
(Rupees Eleven crores and four lakhs only) in lieu of confiscation of
the gold weighing 240.040.145 kgs under the erstwhile Defence of
India Rules, 1962 within three months of receipt of this order.

(ii) In case Shri Gunwant Lal Godawat and the legal heir of late
Shri Chhagan Lal Godawat does not exercise the option of
depositing the amount of Rs.11.04 crores in the stipulated time
limit, as given above, Shri Gunwant Lal Godawat and legal heir of
late Shri Chhagan Lal Godawat shall be liable to return to the
Department immediately the gold weighing 185.145 kgs which was

36
returned to them on 2.7.94 in compliance of directions of the
Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court given in the order dated 28.05.97.”

It must be remembered that the amount of Rs.11.04 crores was the

value of the gold as on the date (7.12.94) when the appellant was

given the option to pay the fine in lieu of confiscation.

60. However, it is argued before us by the appellant that:

“Once the order of confiscation had been set aside and the matter
remanded back, the issue whether the gold is to be confiscated was
required to be adjudicated afresh. The determination of the law
under the proceedings would continue has to be considered “on the
date of remand by the High Court”… Thus the pending proceedings
under Part XII-A of the DoI Rules, will have to be deemed to be
continue under the Gold (Control) Act.”28

In other words, the argument advanced is that the law applicable to

the adjudgment proceedings is GOLD ACT – a submission plainly

untenable in light of the reasons given by us in the preceding

paragraphs and the decision of this Court in Jayantilal.

61. A proceeding initiated under the RULES and pending as on the

date of the GOLD ACT will still have to be concluded in accordance

with the RULES in view of Section 116 of the ORDINANCE for the

reasons already noted at para 29.

28

Written submissions of the appellant.

37

62. On the basis of the above-mentioned submission, a further

submission was made:

“The said rule (Ed: Rule 126 M (8)) grants the further discretion to
impose a fine that is less than or more than the market value as on
the date of seizure or of order of confiscation, as the case may be
(however, redemption at a higher value would not make
commercial sense since the buyer will prefer buying from the
market). Section 73 read with Section 2(v) of the Act mandates
that the redemption fine will not exceed the market value of the
gold seized as on the date of seizure.

The Act takes away the discretion available to the officer to
determine the relevant date for valuation by mandating the
relevant date to be the date of seizure, which in any case is one of
the methods available to the officer for calculating the redemption
fine under rule 126M(8). Therefore, the Act only reduces the
discretion available under Rule 126M(8) with respect to the
relevant date for calculation of the redemption fine. The officer
continues to have the discretion to impose a fine lesser than the
market value as on the date of seizure. There is therefore no
inconsistency between the DoI Rules and the Act.”

63. The substance of the submission is that both the RULES and

the GOLD ACT provide for giving an option to the “owner” of the

gold adjudged to be confiscated. While the RULES provide an

unrestricted discretion to the “officer adjudging” to determine the

amount of fine, GOLD ACT restricts the discretion by imposing an

upper limit on the quantum of fine that could be imposed by

declaring that “give to the owner thereof an option to pay in lieu of

confiscation such fine, not exceeding the value”. According to the

petitioner, such value is to be determined with reference to the date

38
of the seizure of the gold because of Section 73 of the GOLD ACT

read with Section 2(v) thereof.

64. At the outset, we must make it clear that there is nothing in

the text of Section 73 of the GOLD ACT which requires the value of

the gold (for the purpose of determining the fine) should be the

value of the gold as on the date of the seizure. But the expression

‘value’ is a defined expression under Section 2(v) of the Act.

“Section 73 – Power to give option to pay fine in lieu of
confiscation- Whenever any confiscation is authorized by this
Act, the officer adjudging it may, subject to such conditions as
may be specified in the order adjudging the confiscation, give to
the owner thereof an option to pay in lieu of confiscation such
fine, not exceeding the value29 of the thing in respect of which
confiscation is authorized, as the said officer thinks fit.”

Section 2(v). ‘value’, in relation to primary gold, article or
ornaments, means,-

(i) when the gold is seized under this Act, the market
price of such gold as on the date of the seizure thereof,

(ii) when the gold is not available for seizure, the market
price of such gold as on the date on which the notice referred
to in section 79 is issued.”

65. The language of Section 73 is clear that it applies only to those

cases wherein confiscation is one which is authorised “by this Act”.

In our opinion, Section 73 would have no application to those cases

of confiscation which are adjudged under the RULES. It would be

applicable only for those cases where the confiscation is authorised

29
This rule originally provided for imposition of a fine not exceeding twice the value of the goods. However, the
word “twice” was omitted by the Gold Control (Amendment) Act, 1971 (21 of 1971), Sec.3.

39
by the GOLD ACT. Section 7130 authorises the confiscation of gold

in respect of which “any provision of this Act or any rule or order made

thereunder has been, or is being, or is attempted to be, contravened”. In

other words, Section 71 authorises the confiscation of gold if there

has been or is or is attempt to contravene the provisions of the

GOLD ACT i.e. only such contravention occur after the

commencement of the GOLD ACT but not contravention of law

which existed anterior thereto (the RULES).

66. There is a distinction between acts done pursuant to the

authorization of a statute and acts done pursuant to the

authorization under a different statute or a statutory instrument

but deemed to have been done under the earlier of the

abovementioned two statutes. When a statute creates a fiction

requiring certain events which took place prior to the

commencement of such a statute to be deemed to have been done

under the statute, such a fiction does not retrospectively authorise

doing of such acts. It only takes note of the existence of certain

state of affairs and creates putative state of affairs by declaring that

such anterior events should be deemed to have taken place under

“Section 71. Confiscation of gold. (1) Any gold in respect of which any provision of this Act or any rule or
30

order made thereunder has been, or is being, or is attempted to be, contravened, together with any package,
covering or receptacle in which such gold is found, shall be liable to confiscation:”

40
the statute which came into existence later. Such fictions could

only have limited consequences.

67. Prior to the GOLD ACT, seizure and confiscation of gold were

authorised by the RULES. Though, by virtue of the fiction created

under Section 116, the confiscations adjudged under the RULES

are deemed to be confiscations adjudged under the GOLD ACT, the

Scheme and the limitations of such fiction are already explained

earlier in para 29. Therefore, neither Section 73 nor the definition

under Section 2(v), in our opinion, would be applicable for the

confiscations adjudged under the RULES – pursuant to a seizure

that took place before the commencement of the GOLD ACT.

68. No doubt that the option to pay fine in lieu of confiscation is

one of the consequences flowing from the adjudgment of

confiscation. Therefore, in view of the fiction under Section 116,

Section 73 of the GOLD ACT would have been applicable if

consequence of applying such fiction to the confiscations adjudged

under the RULES is not inconsistent with the GOLD ACT. In view

of the language of Section 73 – “confiscation authorised by this Act”

limits the operation of Section 73 only to the confiscations adjudged

under the GOLD ACT. Hence, there is an inconsistency. We are of

41
the opinion that the High Court rightly held that Section 73 would

not come into play at all in the case on hand. Therefore, the fine

amount cannot be determined on the basis of the value of the gold.

69. On the other hand, as rightly opined by the High Court, the

market value of the gold as on the date of the exercise of the option

by the owner of the gold to pay fine in lieu of the confiscation would

be the legally appropriate amount of fine. Because it is a fine in

lieu of confiscation. Confiscation would result in the loss of the

entire property in the confiscated gold resulting in a financial loss of

the value of gold to the owner. Hence, the value of the gold is to be

determined with reference to the date on which the owner exercises

the option to pay the fine in lieu of the confiscation.

70. One of the ancillary submissions made on behalf of the

appellant is that in view of the fact that the order of the Collector

dated 9.12.94 gave an option to the appellant to redeem the gold by

paying a fine of Rs.2.5 crores in lieu of confiscation which had

become final in view of the dismissal of the appeal of the

department on 23.5.1996. Therefore, it was not open to the High

Court to hold that the appellant is liable to pay a redemption fine of

Rs.11.04 crores in a reference under Section 82-B of the GOLD

42
ACT. The High Court could not sit in appeal on the judgment of the

Tribunal and substitute its opinion regarding the amount of fine to

be collected from the appellant in view of the confiscation of his

gold.

71. The submission of the appellant is required to be rejected for

the simple reason that the determination of the amount of fine

made by the tribunal was without any basis. The conclusion of the

Tribunal that the fine in lieu of confiscation must be equal to the

value of the gold as on the date of its seizure is not based on any

principle of law. The correctness of the said conclusion was the

subject matter of the reference before the High Court. The High

Court was completely justified in examining the correctness of the

legal basis on which the figure of Rs.12.5 lakhs was arrived at. For

the reasons already recorded by us earlier, the High Court rightly

came to the conclusion that the fine in lieu of confiscation must

represent the value of the gold so confiscated as on the date

(9.12.94) the appellant was given an option to pay the fine in lieu of

confiscation. Even according to the said order of the Collector, the

value of the gold as on that date was Rs.11.04 crores. Therefore,

the High Court was right in its direction.

43

72. We are only left with one submission made on behalf of the

Union of India, i.e., in view of the enormous delay which took place

in the confiscation proceedings (50+ years), the appellant must be

made to pay the interest on the amount of fine of Rs.11.04 crores.

Otherwise, it would have the effect of permitting the appellant to

profit by litigation as according to the Attorney General if the

appellant is permitted to take back the entire quantity of 240.040

kgs. of gold the current market value would be Rs. 72 crores

(approx.). We find the submission wholly justified. We, therefore,

deem it proper to direct that the appellant would be entitled to

redeem the gold by paying not only the fine of Rs.11.04 crores but

also the interest thereon calculated @ 10% p.a.

73. The appeals are disposed of as indicated above.

………………………………….J.

(J. CHELAMESWAR)

…….……………………………J.

(S. ABDUL NAZEER)

New Delhi
November 22, 2017

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