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M/S Om Sai Trading Company vs The Union Of India on 4 September, 2019

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT PATNA
Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No.10109 of 2019

1. M/s Om Sai Trading Company House No.25,Thane
Road,Rupahi,Nagaon,Assam through its Authorized Signatory Ramashankar
Maurya,aged about 44 years,Male,son of Jairam Maurya,resident of Babri
Complex,A B C Gali,Athgaon,P.S. Bharauli Mukh,Dist.-Guwahati,Assam

2. M/s Maa Kamakhya Traders, Plot No.82, Brahmputra Industrial Park, Sila,
Sendurighopa, District Kamru, Assam, through its Authorized Signatory
Ramashankar Maurya, aged about 44 years, Male, son of Jairam Maurya,
resident of Babri Complex, A B C Gali, Athgaon, P.S. Bharauli Mukh,Dist.-
Guwahati, Assam
… … Petitioner/s
Versus

1. The Union of India through the Chief Commissioner of Customs, Central
Revenue Building Beer Chand Patel Path, Patna

2. The Commissioner of Customs (Preventive), HQRS, 5th. Floor, Central
Revenue Building Beer Chand Patel Path,Patna

3. The Additional Commissioner, (Adjudication), Office of the Commissioner
of Customs, Central Revenue Building Beer Chand Patel Path,Patna

4. The Assistant Commissioner, (Adjudication), Customs (Preventive),
HQRS,Office of the Chief Commissioner, Central Revenue Building Beer
Chand Patel Path,Patna

5. The Assistant Commissioner, (Preventive), Division Forbesganj, Dist.-

Araria,Bihar.

6. The Inspector cum Seizing Officer, Customs (P), Forbesganj, Division
Forbesganj, Dist.-Araria,Bihar.

… … Respondent/s

Appearance :

For the Petitioner/s : Mr.Prabhat Ranjan, Advocate
For the Respondent/s : Mr. Anshuman Sinh, C.G.C.

CORAM: HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE RAJEEV RANJAN PRASAD
C.A.V. JUDGMENT
Date : 05-09-2019

The petitioners in the present case are seeking the

following reliefs:

“(i) Quashing of the Memo of Seizure dated
06.02.2019 (Annexure-2) whereby 15865 Kgs. Of
Betel Nuts contained in 328 bags valued at Rs.

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4514862/- and along with the truck bearing
Registration No. KA 01B-8691 valued at Rs. 5 Lakhs
has been seized for alleged violation of Notification
No. 9/96 (NT) – Cus, dated 22.01.96 issued under
Section 11 of the Customs Act, 1962 read with Section
3(2) of the Foreign Trade (Development and
Regulation) Act, 1992;

(ii) Quashing of the Consequential Letter No. 2647
dated 02.04.2019 (Annexure 4) whereby, on the basis
of an exparte Sample Test report from Officer in
Charge, Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata (Extension
Centre, Raxaul), reporting the samples to be non
confirming to the Food Safety and Standards (Food
Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulation
2011, the application for provisional release of the
Betel Nutes has been rejected;

(iii) Quashing of the consequential order of
provisional release dated 04.04.2018 (Annexure 5)
vide Letter No. 2707 to the extent that provisional
release has been ordered on submission of the cash
security of 20 % of the value of the Truck;

and

(iv) Direction upon the respondents to release the
goods pending disposal of the instant writ
application.”

2. It is the case of the petitioners that they are the

registered dealers under the provisions of the Goods and Services

Taxes (GST) Act and in course of day to day business the

petitioners dispatched a consignment of 15865 Kgs. Betel Nuts
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contained in 325 bags to one M/s Mahaveer Traders of

Coimbatore (Tamilnadu) by the Truck bearing Registration No.

KA-01-8691 through M/s Ajay Goods Carrier on 01.02.2019 along

with the requisite documents in support of the same including e-

way Bill. Out of the total consignment of 15865 kgs of Betel

Nuts, 10350 Kgs. Contained in 208 bags belongs to petitioner no.

1 and 5516 Kgs. contained in 117 bags belongs to petitioner no. 2.

3. It is stated that in course of transportation the truck

was detained by the officers of the Forbesganj Customs Preventive

Division near a Toll Plaza on 06.02.2019, the same were taken to

office of the Assistant Commissioner, Customs (P) Division,

Forbesganj for verificaton of the papers. The documents were said

to have been produced before the respondents but without

considering the same and without even verifying its veracity the

Betel Nuts of the truck have been seized by the Inspector /

Customs (P), Forbesganj for the alleged violation of Notification

No. 9/96 (NT)-Cus, dated 22.01.1996 issued under Section 11 of

the Customs Act, 1962 read with Section 3(2) of the Foreign

Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992. A copy of the

seizure Memo dated 06.02.2019 was handed over to the Truck

Driver.

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4. The petitioners when approached the jurisdictional

officers along with their representations and all documents as

contained in Annexure ‘3’ to the writ application and also filed

applications to the Chairman, Central Board of the Indirect Taxes

and Customs, Chief Commissioner of Customs and Commissioner

of Customs for early release of the goods, the petitioners have

been served with a Letter Dated 02.04.2019 as contained in Memo

No. 2647 whereby on the basis of Sample Test Report of the

seized Betel Nuts it has been held that the same is not fit for

human consumption and therefore, cannot be provisionally

released and thus, the application for provisional release has been

rejected vide Annexure ‘4’ to the writ application.

5. The truck in question has, however, been released

provisionally vide Annexure ‘5’ to the writ application on a

condition to deposit Rs. 5 lakhs and execution of a bond for full

seizure value and cash security of 20 % of the seized vehicle.

6. Learned counsel for the petitioners submits that the

Sample Test Report obtained from the Central Food Laboratory,

Kolkata (hereinafter in short ‘CFL’ )on which reliance has been

placed by the respondents to reject the application of the

provisional release has been obtained without any prior notice to

the petitioners for purpose of collection of sample and if the
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samples have been collected behind the back of the petitioners, the

Sample Test Report cannot be relied upon.

7. It is submitted that the seizure of the Betel Nuts by the

respondents is beyond their jurisdiction and the same is arbitrary

and contrary to the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962. Referring

to Section 110 of the Customs Act, learned counsel submits that it

is subject to the statutory sine qua non viz reasons to believe that

the goods are liable to confiscation under the Act. In the present

case it is submitted that there is absolutely no reason to believe

that the goods i.e. Betel Nuts are liable to confiscation under any

of the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962.

8. So far as the Notification No. 9/96 issued under

Section 11 of the Customs Act, 1962 is concerned, it is submitted

that the same has no application because the said notification

imposes restrictions on import from Nepal and is concerned with

only those goods which have been exported to Nepal from

countries other than India except machinery and equipment used

in Nepal for the execution of a project. It is submitted that the

notification applies only when goods are “Notified Goods” within

the meaning of Section 11B of Chapter IVA of the Customs Act,

1962. According to learned counsel, there is no notification

declaring Betel Nuts as notified goods under Section 11 of the
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Customs Act. According to him, the burden lies upon the

Department to prove that the Betel Nuts being a non-notified item

was being smuggled.

9. It is submitted that the samples have not been sent to

the ‘CFL’ in accordance with the provisions of Section 47 of the

Act read with Rule 2.4 of the Food Safety and Standards Rule,

2011 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Regulation 2011’). According

to him, the Betel Nuts which have been subjected to the analysis

under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (hereinafter

referred to as the ‘Act of 2006’) was in course of transportation,

from Assam to Coimbtore and was not being offered for sale at the

stage in which samples have been drawn. These Betel Nuts are raw

materials which require sufficient further processing to be done

and only thereafter, they may be packed in terms of the provisions

of the Regulations, 2011 for purpose of sale. Therefore, to say that

those were not fit for consumption by public at this stage is not

correct.

10. Referring to the earlier proceedings of similar nature

learned counsel relied upon the order dated 17.01.2013 passed by

a learned co-ordinate Bench of this Court in C.W.J.C. No. 317 of

2012 and C.W.J.C. No. 3784 of 2013. It has been submitted that

this Court sitting in its writ jurisdiction had directed for
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provisional release of the Betel Nuts directed for release of the

Betel Nuts. [A perusal of the order dated 17.01.2013 passed in

C.W.J.C. No. 317 of 2012 would show that although in the said

case initially the writ application was filed for quashing of the

seizure list and other consequential reliefs, in course of argument

the whole emphasis remained centered around the provisional

release of the Betel Nuts and the vehicle involved therein.] The

learned co-ordinate Bench directed the authorities of the Customs

Department to release the Betel Nuts and the vehicle of the

petitioner after due verification in terms of Section 110-A of the

Customs Act after fixing a reasonable value for the Bank

Guarnatee to be produced by the petitioner in that regard. This

order was passed in the light of an earlier order dated 08.05.2012

passed in C.W.J.C. No. 21849 of 2011 and other analogous cases

(M/s. Assam Agro Traders vs. Union of India Ors.) in which

also the Court had directed for provisional release of the Betel

Nuts and the vehicles.

11. Again in C.W.J.C. No. 3784 of of 2013 the writ

application was disposed of vide order dated 04.03.2012 on

agreement of the parties with a direction to release the Betel Nuts

and the vehicle of the petitioner in terms of order dated 17.01.2013

passed in C.W.J.C. no. 317 of 2012. The Department of Customs,
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thereafter, moved a modification application being M.J.C. No.

2185 of 2013 (Annexure ‘7’) in which a detail order dated

24.07.2013 was passed by the learned co-ordinate Bench. The

operative portion of the judgment dated 24.07.2013 passed in

M.J.C. No. 2185 of 2013 reads as under:

“I have considered the submissions of learned counsels for
the parties. On a consideration of the various provisions it is
evident that betel nut or supari has not been enumerated
under the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products
Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011. Thus as
per the submission of learned counsel for the petitioners it
would be a proprietary food that has not been standardized
under the said Regulations. It would thus be required to
follow the labelling requirements specified under the
Regulations and must also conform to the requirement of
describing as clearly as possible the nature and composition
of food, the category in which it falls in the said Regulations
and also comply with all other regulatory provisions. It is
further clear that supari has to be sold in a package in terms
of the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling)
Regulations, 2011 and such packaging is required to carry
the statutory warning that “chewing of supari is injurious to
health”. The same will also have to comply with the Food
Safety and Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues)
Regulations, 2011 which lays down the limits for such
contaminants in different food articles. However, the stage
for such sample, etc. can only arise after the processing has
been made of the raw supari by processing units or in case it
is used as an ingredient of produces like Pan Masala, etc. by
testing of such food products. That stage had not come into
existence when the sample was sent by the Customs
authorities to the CFL, Kolkata (Extension Centre, Raxaul)
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for analysis as the same had not yet been put up for sale for
human consumption and required various processing to be
done before it was fit for the same.

From the materials placed on the record by learned counsels
for the parties I am also of the view that the sample has not
been drawn in accordance with the provisions of Section 47
and Rule 2.4 of the Food Safety and Standards Act and
Rules. So far as the reliance on the report by M/s. Arecanut
Research Development Foundation, Mangalore is
concerned, the petitioners have totally failed to bring on
record any material to show that it is an accredited
laboratory by a competent authority under the Act and
Rules. Hence no legal liability can flow from the report of
such an institution.

I may here also point out that at a subsequent stage the
petitioners have sought to rely upon the definition of
“unsafe food” as contained in Section 3(1)(zz) of the Act,
particularly of sub clause (ix) thereof stating that it would
include article having been infected or infested with worms,
weevils or insects. The said definition by itself does not
mean anything as in fact standards with respect to weevils,
etc. are to be found with respect to different food articles in
the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards
and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 itself including
general standards whether in the context of food grains or of
different other vegetable products, etc. It is thus evident that
it is not open to the petitioners to straightaway rely upon
Section 3(1)(zz)(ix) of the Act without any reference to the
standards laid down in the different Regulations.

I am in agreement with the submission of learned counsel
for the respondents that the case regarding samples being
found adulterated is not borne out from the actual data
obtained from the analysis as there is no reference to any
adulterant in the course of such analysis. Moreover, I find
that the prescribed standards column has not been filled up
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which would be the relevant point for consideration of the
different data obtained from the examination of the sample
of betel nut by the laboratory. Be that as it may, it is evident
that the stage for taking out sample for its analysis had not
yet come when the same was being transported for delivery
to the processing unit for its processing by the respondents.
Thus, on a consideration of the aforesaid facts and
circumstances and the submissions of learned counsels for
the parties, I am of the view that no modification is required
to be made in the order dated 4.3.2013 passed in CWJC
No.3784 of 2013. The modification application is,
accordingly, rejected. The petitioners are directed to comply
with the order passed in the writ petition in its own terms.”

12. Recently this Court while passing judgment dated

24.01.2019 in C.W.J.C. No. 7589 of 2018 relied upon the said

judgment of the learned co-ordinate Bench of this Court and

allowed the writ application. In the said case, this Court had

formed an opinion that once the learned co-ordinate Bench of this

Court had held that in absence of there being any material to show

that M/s Arecanut Research Development Foundation,

Mangalore (in short ‘ARDF, Manglore) is an accredited laboratory

by a competent authority under the Act and Rules, it’s report

cannot have a consequence of fastening of any legal liability

therefore, no legal liability can flow from the report of such an

institutions. It was held that the respondent authorities were not
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justified in relying upon the ARDF, Mangalore’s report to justify

the seizure in question.

13. In this case a counter affidavit has been filed on

behalf of respondents. A stand has been taken therein that upon

examination of the goods loaded in the Truck it was found that Cut

Dried Areca Nuts were appearing as dark pink in colour. The kind

of appearance and colours are not the characters of Indian origin

Areca Nuts. The Areca Nuts of Indian origin are normally oval in

shape. The Betel Nuts and the Truck were seized under Section

110 of the Customs Act on a reasonable belief that the said Cut

Dried Areca Nuts were illegally smuggled into India. Panchanama

dated 06.02.2019 and seizure memo dated 06.02.2019 have been

prepared to this effect on the spot.

14. It is further stated that to ascertain the country of

origin of the seized Areca Nuts, samples were sent to (1) Arecanut

Research Development Foundation, Varanashi Towers, Mission

Street, Mangalore, Karnataka and (2) Central Food Laboratory,

Kolkata, Extension Centre Raxaul, Bihar. The ARDF, Mangalore

submitted a test report, according to which samples of arecanuts

pieces and coated with some colouring materials. The ‘CFL’

reported that “the sample of Betel Nut were tested as per Standard

Food Safety norms falling under regulation No. 2.12 2.3.57(5)
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of Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standard Food

Additives) Regulations, 2011 and found non-conforming to the

standards due to presence of Damaged Betel Nuts and Added

Colouring matter. Thus, the sample is “unsafe food” under

section 3(1) (ZZ) (ix) of FSS Act, 2006.” Both the reports are

Annexure ‘C’ and ‘D’ respectively to the counter affidavit.

15. It is further submitted that to ascertain the country of

origin of the seized goods further notification viz verification of

buyer / seller and their actual work profile from jurisdictional

commissionerate, verification of documents submitted by the

Truck driver are being done by the Divisional office, Forbesganj.

16. It is in the aforementioned background the

respondents submit that the seized goods being unfit for human

consumption cannot be provisionally released. Annexure ‘E’ to

the counter affidavit is the order of the Assistant Commissioner

Customs (P) Division, Forbesganj by which he has refused to

release the seized Arecanuts provisionally. It is stated that further

investigation in the mater is still going on and therefore, it would

not be desirable to release the Betel Nuts at this stage.

17. In paragraph 23 of the counter affidavit the

respondents have stated that as regards the country of origin,

ARDF’s report is as follows:

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“The sample of arecanuts contain very small cut pieces
(Chips), boiled, dried and coated with some colouring
material. The colour is red and very shiny. It is not the
natural colour of arecanut or its extract. They suspect that
the arecanut pieces are coated with some artificial colouring
materials.”

18. It is stated that further investigation of the case is

under process. The respondents have denied that the Department

has said that the seized goods were imported from Nepal.

According to the respondents, the exact country of origin of the

seized goods is yet to be ascertained. They have taken a stand that

though the burden of proof is upon the Department, however, the

investigation in the instant case is still under process, hence, the

respondents are verifying the country or origin of the seized goods.

19. It is further stated that the respondents have reasons

to believe that the Betel Nuts being carried on the Truck in

question was being illegally imported and were of foreign origin as

the said truck was loaded near the boarder area near Gauhati.

CONSIDERATION

20. Having heard learned counsel for the petitioner as

well as for the Union of India, this Court finds that the whole

argument of the petitioner for purpose of quashing of the seizure

list revolves around the provision of Section 110 of the Customs

Act. Section 110 of the Customs Act is quoted hereunder for a

ready reference:

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“110. Seizure of goods, documents and things. -(1) If the
proper officer has reason to believe that any goods are liable to
confiscation under this Act, he may seize such goods :
Provided that where it is not practicable to seize any such
goods, the proper officer may serve on the owner of the
goods an order that he shall not remove, part with, or
otherwise deal with the goods except with the previous
permission of such officer.

1

[ (1-A) The Central Government may, having regard to the
perishable or hazardous nature of any goods, depreciation in the
value of the goods with the passage of time, constraints of
storage space for the goods or any other relevant considerations,
by notification in the Official Gazette, specify the goods or class
of goods which shall, as soon as may be after its seizure under
sub-section (1), be disposed of by the proper officer in such
manner as the Central Government may, from time to time,
determine after following the procedure hereinafter specified.
(1-B) Where any goods, being goods specified under sub-section (1-
A), have been seized by a proper officer under sub-section (1), he
shall prepare an inventory of such goods containing such details
relating to their description, quality, quantity, mark, numbers,
country of origin and other particulars as the proper officer may
consider relevant to
the identity of the goods in any proceedings under this Act and shall
make an application to a Magistrate for the purpose of –

(a)certifying the correctness of the inventory so prepared; or

(b)taking, in the presence of the Magistrate, photographs of such
goods, and certifying such photographs as true; or

(c) allowing to draw representative samples of such goods, in the
presence of the Magistrate, and certifying the correctness of any list of
samples so drawn.

(1-C) Where an application is made under sub-section (1-B), the
Magistrate shall, as soon as may be, allow the application.]
(2) Where any goods are seized under sub-section (1) and no notice in
respect thereof is given under clause (a) of section 124 within six
months of the seizure of the goods, the goods shall be returned to the
person from whose possession they were seized:

1. Inserted by Act 80 of 1985, S. 8 (w.e.f. 27-2-1985)
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Provided that the aforesaid period of six months may, on
sufficient cause being shown, be extended by the 1[Principal
Commissioner of Customs or Commissioner of Customs]
for a period not exceeding six months.

(3) The proper officer may seize any documents or things
which, in his opinion, will be useful for, or relevant to, any
proceeding under this Act.

(4) The person from whose custody any documents are
seized under sub-section (3) shall be entitled to make copies
thereof or take extracts therefrom in the presence of an
officer of customs.

2

[110-A. Provisional release of goods, documents and
things seized pending adjudication.- Any goods,
documents, or things seized under section 110, pending the
order of the 3[adjudicating authority], be released to the
owner on taking a bond from him in the proper form with
such security and conditions as the 3[adjudicating authority]
may require.]”

21. In the facts of the present case, the counter affidavit

of the respondents states that the Cut Dried Arecanuts is of dark

pink colour which are not the characteristics of Indian origin

Arecanuts because the Arecanuts of Indian origin are normally

Oval in shape. In order to ascertain the country of origin of the

seized cut dried Arecanuts, samples were sent to the two

Laboratories. The test report of ARDF, Mangalore reads as under:

1. substituted by Act 25 of 2014,S. 78, for “Commissioner of Customs” (w.e.f. 1-10-2014).

2. Inserted by Act 29 of 2006 (w.e.f. 13-7-2006).

3. Substituted by Act 8 of 2011, S. 47, for “adjudicating officer” and “Commissioner of Customs”.
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” The sample of areca nuts contain very small cut pieces

(Chips), boiled, dried and coated with some colouring material.

The colour is red and very shiny. It is not the natural colour of

arecanut or its extract. They suspect that the arecanut pieces are

coated with some artificial colouring materials”.

22. Further the test report of the ‘CFL’ reported reads as

under:

“The sample of Betel Nut were tested as per Standard Food
Safety norms failing under regulation No. 2.12 2.3.47 (5)
of Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standard
Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 and found non-
conforming to the standards due to presence of Damaged
Betel Nuts and Added Colouring matter. Thus the sample is
‘unsafe food’ under section 3(I)(ZZ) (ix) of FSS Act, 2006”.

23. The respondents have come out with a statement

that in order to ascertain the country of origin of the seized goods

further investigation is going on. So far as the two test reports are

concerned, this Court finds that those are not saying about the

country of origin of the Betel Nuts.

24. In the case of M/s Ayesha Exports Vs. The Union

of India (C.W.J.C. No. 7589 of 2018), this Court has recorded the

views of the learned co-ordinate Bench of this Court in M.J.C.

No. 2185 of 2013 which had in fact been challenged before the

Hon’ble Supreme Court in Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) No.

CC7331 of 2014 but the same was dismissed on 08.05.2014

keeping the question of law open.

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25. This Court reiterated that in absence of there being

any standardized laboratory test for tracing the country of origin,

established under some statute and unless such Labs have been

accredited by the competent authority and that the Labs could have

the scientific method to come to a conclusion that the Betel Nut is

of a particular country’s origin, it would not be in the interest of

justice to direct the petitioner to pay the custom’s duty.

26. This Court finds that in the present case the request

of the petitioner to release the Betel Nuts have been rejected on a

totally different ground. In paragraph 26 of the counter affidavit

respondents have come out with the following statements:

“26. That in the view of the statements made in paragraph
no. 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61,
62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67 and 68 of the writ petition under
reply, it is humbly stated and submitted that it is pertinent
to mention that facts and circumstance of the instant case
are not identical to the facts and circumstances for the
cases referred by the petitioner in his application. In the
instant case respondent has placed reliance upon the test
report given by the two test labs, in which it has been
reported that “the sample is ‘unsafe food’ for human
consumption; while in any of the cases referred by the
petitioner no such report was available at that point of
time. In view of the same it would not be appropriate to
release the seized goods for human consumption.”

27. Learned counsel for the Union of India has placed

before this Court a Government of India’s Circular No. 3 of 2011
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issued by Ministry of Finance in the Department of Revenue,

Central Board of Excise and Customs on 6 th January, 2011. The

Circular provides detailed guidelines for examination and testing

of food items prior to its testing and clearance by Customs

Officers under the provisions of Prevention of Food Adulteration

Act, 1954 ( in short ‘PFA Act, 1954’). It is submitted that in terms

of the said Circular dated 6th January, 2011, the Custom Officers

are competent to get the samples tested from the nearest Central

Food Laboratory or a Laboratory authorized for such testing by

DGHS or FSSI. Circular No. 3 of 2011 is reproduced

hereinbelow for ready reference:

“Circular No. 3/2011-Customs
F. No.450/115/2009-Cus.IV
Government of India
Ministry of Finance
Department of Revenue
Central Board of Excise Customs
North Block, New Delhi-1,

6th January, 2011.

To
All Chief Commissioners of Customs / Customs (Prev.).
All Chief Commissioners of Customs Central Excise.
All Commissioners of Customs / Customs (Prev.).
All Commissioners of Customs (Appeals).
All Commissioners of Customs Central Excise.
All Commissioners of Customs Central Excise (Appeals).

Subject: Import of edible / food products – regarding.

***

Sir / Madam,
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Attention is invited to Board Circular No.58/2001-Cus dated
25.10.2001 which provides detailed guidelines for examination
and testing of food item prior to its testing and clearance by
Customs officers under the provisions of Prevention of Food
Adulteration Act, 1954 (PFA Act, 1954).

2. Further, in terms of Para 8 of Chapter I A (General Notes
Regarding Import Policy) of the ITC (HS) Classification of Export
and Import items, import of all such edible/food products
including tea, domestic sale and manufacture of which are
governed by Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, shall be
subject to all the conditions laid down in the aforesaid Act.
Import of all these products will have to comply with the quality
and packaging requirements as laid down in the Act. Compliance
of these conditions is to be ensured before allowing customs
clearance of the consignment.

3. To consolidate the laws relating to food and to provide for a
systematic and scientific development of Food Processing
Industries, the government has enacted The Food Safety and
Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act, 2006). Under the Act, the Food
Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has been
established to lay down standards and regulate/monitor the
manufacturing, import, processing, distribution and sale of food.
Section 97 of the FSS Act, 2006 provides that the existing Acts and
Orders relating to food items such as PFA Act, 1954; Food
Products Order, 1955; Meat Food Products Order, 1973;
Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order, 1947; Edible Oils
Packaging (Regulation) Order, 1988; Solvent Extracted Oil, Deoiled
Meal, and Edible Flour Control (Order), 1967; Milk and Milk
Products Order, 1992 etc shall be repealed from a date to be
notified.

4. The FSSAI has taken over PHO functions at select ports such
as Nava Sheva and Mumbai with effect from 13.09.2010 with the
stipulation that the existing rule and procedures will continue to
be followed without any change till FSSAI regulations are notified.
Thus, FSSAI has replaced PHO with its authorized officers at
abovementioned ports in terms of section 47 (5) of the FSS Act,
2006.

5. Difficulties have been reported to Board by certain importers
regarding delay in testing of samples and clearance of goods
consequent upon implementation of FSS Act, 2006 at select ports.

6. It is also noted that vide Policy Circular 25(RE-2003)/2002-007
dated 28.01.2004 and 37(RE-2003)/2002-2007 dated 14.06.2004,
Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
20/34

the DGFT has modified the procedure for sampling of imported
edible/Food Products.

7. Accordingly, the procedure of clearance of food articles has
been revisited by the Board, and following modified procedure
has been prescribed:

(a) All consignments of high risk food items, as listed in DGFT
Policy Circular No. 37(RE-2003)/2002-2007 dated 14.06.2004 (as
may be modified from time to time), shall be referred to
Authorised Representative of FSSAI or PHOs, as the case may be,
for testing and clearance shall be allowed only after receipt of the
test report as per the instructions contained in the Customs
Circular No. 58/2001-Cus, dated 25.10.2001.

(b) All consignments of perishable items like fruits, vegetables,
meat, fish, cheese, etc., will continue to be handled in terms of
the guidelines contained in Para 2.3 of the Board’s Circular
No.58/2001-Customs dated 25.10.2001.

(c)In respect of food items not covered under (a) and (b) above,
the following procedure would be adopted in addition to the
general checks prescribed under Para 2.1 of the Circular No.
58/2001-Cus, dated 25.10.2001:

(i)Samples would be drawn from the first five consecutive
consignments of each food item, imported by a particular
importer and referred to Authorised Representative of FSSAI or
PHOs, as the case may be, for testing to ascertain the quality and
health safety standards of the consignments.

(ii) In the event of the samples conforming to the prescribed
standards, the Customs would switch to a system of checking 5% –
20% of the consignments of these food items on a random basis,
for checking conformity to the prescribed standards. The
selection of food items for random checking and testing would be
done by the Customs taking into consideration factors like the
nature of the food products, its source of origin as well as track
record of the importers as well as information received from
FSSAI from time to time.

(iii In case, a sample drawn from a food item in a particular
consignment fails to meet the prescribed standards, the Customs
would place the import of the said consignment on alert,
discontinue random checking for import of such food items and
revert to the procedure of compulsory checking. The system of
random sampling for import of such food items would be restored
only if the test results of the samples drawn from the 5
Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
21/34

consecutive consignments re-establish that the food items are in
conformity with the prescribed standards.

8.Authorised Officers of FSSAI will ascertain that for the imported
pre-packaged good items, the language and other major
requirements of the label like mention of best before date,
nutrition information etc. should comply the labeling provisions
under PFA Rules, failing which sample may not be drawn from
such consignment for testing.

9.It is also clarified that Risk Management System (RMS) module
for import consignments of edible / food items, presently does
not provide for random sampling as it is one of its CCR
(Compulsory Customs Requirements) targets. Accordingly, Risk
Management System (RMS) shall take necessary steps to modify
the RMS module to conform to the new requirements. Till such
time, this modification is carried out, Customs shall take
appropriate decision to waive the CCR requirements in respect of
food items not covered under Para 7 (a) and 7 (b) above and to
the extent mentioned under Para 7 (c) above. In terms of Circular
No.43/2005-Cus dated 24th November, 2005 such a course of
action shall, however, be taken only with the prior approval of the
jurisdictional Commissioner of Customs or an officer authorized
by him for this purpose, who shall not be below the rank of
Addl./Joint Commissioner of Customs, and after recording the
reasons for the same. A brief remark on the reasons and the
particulars of Commissioner/ADC/JC authorization should be
made by the officer examining the goods in the departmental
comments in the EDI system.

10.Further, as per Para 13 of Chapter I A (General Notes Regarding
Import Policy) of the ITC (HS) Classification of Export and Import
items, import of all such edible/ food products, domestic sale and
manufacture which are governed by PFA Act, 1954 shall also be
subject to the condition that at the time of importation, the
products are having a valid shelf life of not less than 60% of the
original shelf life. Shelf life of the product is to be calculated
based on the declaration given on the label of the product,
regarding its date of manufacture and the due date for expiry.
Therefore, Customs shall ensure that this condition is complied
with before allowing clearance of such consignments.

11. It is clarified that at certain ports / airports / ICDs / CFSs
where Port Health Officers (PHO) under PFA, 1954 or Authorised
officers under FSS Act, 2006 are not available, the samples will be
Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
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drawn by Customs and the same may be got tested from the
nearest Central Food Laboratory or a laboratory authorized for
such testing by DGHS or FSSAI.

12. RMD shall develop an application software that incorporates
the stipulation of testing of imported foodstuff and alerts the
Customs officer to the effect the number of past shipments
already tested and found fit warrants future shipments need not
ordinarily be tested. This should apply regardless of port of
import so long as the importer, supplier and item of import do
not change. In other words, if such a shipment is imported say, at
Mumbai and the previous 5 shipments imported at, say, Delhi
have passed the test, then the next shipment at Mumbai need
not be tested. A suitable data base would also be prepared at
each Custom House to indicate the compliance history of
importers.

13. The Board Circular 58/2001-Cus dated 25.10.2001 stands
modified to above extent.

14. These instructions may be brought to the notice of all
concerned by way of issuance of suitable Public Notice / Standing
Order.

15. Difficulties, if any, in implementation of these instructions may
be brought to the notice of the Board

Yours faithfully,
( R. P. Singh )
Director (Customs)”

28. learned counsel for the Union of India, Department

of Customs and Excise placed before this Court a Circular No. 35

of 2017 dated 16th August, 2017 which provides guidelines for

provisional release of seized imported goods pending adjudication

under Section 110 A of the Customs Act, 1962. The relevant part

of the guidelines as contained in paragraph 2, 2.1., 2.2, 2.3 and 3

are quoted hereunder for a ready reference:

Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
23/34

“2. While provisional release of seized imported good
is under Section 110A of the Customs Act, 1962 may
normally be considered by the competent adjudicating
authority upon a request made by the owner of the seized
goods, provisional release shall not be allowed in the
following cases –

(i) Goods prohibited under the Customs Act, 1962 or any
other Act for the time being in force;

(ii) Goods that do not fulfill the statutory compliance
requirements/obligations in terms of any Act, Rule,
Regulation or any other law for the time being in force;

(iii) Goods specified in or notified under Section 123 of the
Customs Act, 1962;

(iv) Where the competent authority, for reasons to be
recorded in writing believes that the provisional release
may not be in the public interest.

2.1. seized imported goods shall be released
provisionally by the competent authority upon request of
the owner of the seized goods, subject to executing a Bond
for the full value/estimated value of the seized goods.
2.2 Further, in addition to the Bond mentioned at Para
2.1. above, the competent authority shall take a Bank
Guarantee or Security Deposit to cover the following:
i. the entire amount of duty/differential duty leviable on the
seized goods being provisionally released;
ii.amount of fine that may be levied in lieu of confiscation
under Section 125 of he Customs Act, 1962, at the time of
adjudication of the case. While securing the same, the
competent authority shall take into account the nature of the
seized goods, the duty and charges payable on the said
goods, their market price and teh estimated margin of
profit;

iii. Amount of penalties that may be levied under the
Customs Act, 1962, as applicable, at the time of
adjudication of the case.

2.3. Depending on the specific nature of a case, the
competent authority may, for reasons to be recorded in
writing, increase or decrease the amount of security deposit
as indicated above.

3.In this context, attention is invited to the judgment dated
28.07.2016 of the Hon’ble Madras High Court in Writ
Appeal No. 377 of 2016 in the case of Malabar Diamond
Gallery Pvt. Ltd. Vs Additional Director General, DRI,
Chennai Ors. Wherein the Hon’ble Court has given
sufficient discretion to the adjudicating authority to deny
Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
24/34

provisional release of goods in any case where the goods
are smuggled or import is treated as illegal and in violation
of the statutory provisions. In terms of the said judgment,
by specifying the relevance and reason, the adjudicating
authority may deny provisional release of any goods which
are liable to confiscation under Section 111 or Section 113
as they would fall under the definition of prohibited goods,
in terms of Section 2(33) of the Customs Act, 1962.”

29. Further learned counsel has placed before this Court

the information issued by the Director (Imports) of the Food

Safety Standards Authority of India (Statutory Authority

established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006) which

reads as under :

“File No.1-1600/FSSAI/Imports/2016 (Part18)
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India
(A Statutory Authority established under the Food Safety
and Standards Act, 2006)
FDA Bhawan, Kotla road, New Delhi-110002
20 November, 2018
Import of Betel Nut/Areca Nut
Standards of areca nuts are prescribed under sub-regulation
2.3.55 of Food Safety and Standards (Food Products
Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011 and also
in Chapter 2 of Food Safety Standards (Contaminates,
Toxins Residues) Regulations 2011. Further, limits of
aflatoxin as 15 ug/kg in areca nut is prescribed in the Food
Safety and Standards (Contaminants, toxins and Residues)
Regulation, 2011 through amendment dated 27.12.2017.

2. Areca nut, the fruit of the areca palm (Areca catechu),
commonly referred to as betel nut is prone to the formation
of fungal growth during various stages of its production,
storage and transportation. Accordingly, it has been
decided that the consignments of imported Betel/Areca Nut
shall not be cleared through Risk Management System
(RMS) and all the imported consignments shall be
subjected to 100 % sampling and testing. Also, FSSAI’s
Authorised Officers and Customs officials notified as
Authorised Officers by FSSAI are heareby advised to be
vigilant and strictly ensure the compliance of above
Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
25/34

mentioned FSS Regulations before clearance of
consignments of imported areeca/betel nuts.

(Suneeti Toteja)
Director (Imports)”

30. The Government of India, Ministry of Finance has

issued Circular No. 30 of 2017-cus dated 18th July, 2017 which

provides for a detail guidelines for re-testing of the samples, the

same is produced hereunder:

“Circular No.fe /2017-Cus
F.No. 450/15/2017-Cus IV
Government of India
Ministry of Finance Department of Revenue
(Central Board of Excise Custom)
**********
New Delhi, dated the/18th July, 2017

To,
All Principal Chief Commissioners/Chief Commissioners of
Customs / Customs(Preventive),
All Principal Chief Commissioners/Chief Commissioners of
Customs and Central Excise,
All Directors General,
All Principal Commissioners/Commissioners of Customs /
Customs (Preventive),
All Principal Commissioners/ Commissioners of Customs and
Central Excise.

Sir/Madam,

Sub: Detailed guidelines for re-testing of samples- reg.

World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiated Trade Facilitation
Agreement (TFA),which aims at simplifying the trade processes
and bringing down barriers to trade has come into force w.e.f
22nd February, 2017. India is a signatory to this agreement.

2) India has placed a number of trade related measures negotiated
under the TFA in Category A. Article 5.3.1 envisages granting an
opportunity for a second test in case the first test result of a
sampletaken upon arrival of goods declared for importation
shows an adverse finding. Further Article 5.3.3makes it
obligatory to consider the result of the second test, if any, for the
release and clearance of goods, and, if appropriate, may accept
the results of such test. The aforementioned Articles have been
placed incategory A. In order to have uniformity in approach
among the field formations with regard to re-testing of samples,
the following procedure is prescribed:

Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
26/34

a. Customs officers may draw the samples from import
consignments for testing in case of consignments wherever
needed. The results of all test reports, adverse or otherwise, shall
be communicated to the importer or his authorized
representative/ Customs Broker immediately on its receipt.
b. In case the importer or his agent intends to request the
Additional/ Joint Commissioner of Customs for a re-rest, then the
same shall be made in writing to the said officer within a period
of ten days from the receipt of the communication of the test
results of the first test. Customs officers may take a reasoned
view in case the importer or his authorized representative
Customs Broker is unable to do so for reasons beyond his
control.

c. Where the Additional/Joint Commissioner of Customs grants
an opportunity for a second test, he must clearly indicate in
writing the name and address of the laboratory/institution where
the second test can be carried out. Such referral for re-testing
may be made only after being reasonably sure that the desired re-
testing facilities exist at the laboratory/ institution.

d. Re-test should be made only on the remnants of the samples
originally tested or on duplicate representative sealed samples in
the custody of the Customs. Further, to avoid delays, samples for
second tests shall be marked as “immediate” before sending to
the laboratory. In a case it may so happen that fresh samples have
to be drawn, then such sampling should be done in the presence
of the importer or his representative/customs broker.
e. The requests for re-test of samples on the ground that the
original sample was not representative should be entertained only
if the consignment is still in Customs control. At the time of
drawing the samples, the importer or his representative shall be
present and certify that the samples drawn are representative.
f. The competent authority shall consider the results of the re-test
without prejudice to the results of the first test. In case there is a
variation in the results of the first test and the re-test,the
competent authority shall take the decision relying upon either of
the tests specifying the grounds in writing for the decision so
taken. In case the competent authority is unable to decide
whether to rely upon the first or the re-test results, then it may
order a second re-test provided the consignment is still within the
customs control. However, this option should not be resorted to
in every case of variation between the first test and re-test results.
g. The facility of re-testing, is a trade facilitation measure, which
should generally not be denied in the ordinary course. However,
there might arise circumstances where the customs officer is
constrained to deny the re-testing facility. Board expects that
such denial would be occasional and on reasonable grounds to be
recorded in writing.

h. Where the re-testing procedure is done at the instance of the
department instead of the importer, the above procedure shall be
followed mutatis mutandis.3) Difficulties, if any, in
implementation of this circular, should be brought to the notice
of the Board.4) Hindi version of the circular will follow.

Yours faithfully
(Zubair Riaz)
Director (customs)
Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
27/34

31. In the aforesaid background the latest development

has come vide office Memorandum Dated 4th June, 2019 issued by

the Government of India in its Ministry of Commerce and

Industry, Department for Promotion and Industry and Internal

Trade, the office Memorandum reads as under”

” No. 12013/14/2019/NPC-QCI
Government of India
Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade
NPC-QCI Section
Udyog Bhawan, New Delhi
Dated 4th June, 2019
OFFICE MEMORANDUM
Subject: A letter from Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes
Customs regarding matter related to import of Areca Nut /
Betel Nut.

The undersigned is directed to refer to D.O. letter No.
451/24/2018 Cus.V dated 05.04.2019 [copy enclosed] received
from Chairman, Central Board of Indirect Taxes Customs
(CBITC), Department of Revenue, M/o Finance addressed to
Secretary, DPIIT regarding matter related to import of Areca
nut /Betel nut.

2. In this regard, it is stated that the matter was referred to BABL
and NABL vide email dated 16.05.2019 (copy enclosed) has
stated that they have contacted ARDF Mangalore and ICAR-
IISR, Calicut labs and discussed regarding NABL accreditation.
NABL would follow up with them and ensure their accreditation
status at the earliest. NABL has attached a list of few NABL
accredited labs which have accreditation as on date (about 4-5
labs for testing Arecanut /Beetal nut and about 60 labs for testing
black pepper). The list of NABL accredited lab for Pepper, Areca
nut and Betel nut is enclosed at Annexure-I, Annexure-II and
Annexure-III respectively.

This issues with the approval of Secretary, DPIIT.

Encl.: As above
(Gokul Chand)
Under Secretary to the Govt. of India
Tel no. 2306 2906
To
The Chairman,
Central Board of Indirect Taxes Customs (CBITC),
Department of Revenue,
Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
28/34

Ministry of Finance,
North Block,
New Delhi-110 001″

32. On perusal of the aforesaid materials at first

instance, it would appear that these materials were not placed

before the learned Writ Court in course of hearing of C.W.J.C. No.

3784 of 2013 and M.J.C. No. 2185 of 2013 whereunder the

learned Writ Court took a view agreeing with the submissions of

the writ petitioner and respondents that the Betel Nuts which

were being sent from one place to another was not being offered

for sale, at this stage, in which the samples could have been taken

out and subjected to analysis under the provisions of the Food

and Safety and Analysis Rules and Regulations. The learned Writ

Court took a view that the Betel Nuts are raw materials which

requires sufficient processing to be done and only thereafter, this

would be packaged in terms of the provisions of the Food Safety

and Standards (Packing and lebelling) Regulations 2011 for being

put up for sale. The learned Writ Court took a view that the stage

had not come into existence when the sample was sent by custom

authorities to the ‘CFL’, Kolkata (Extension Center, Raxaul).

33. As is evident from the discussions made in the

judgment dated 24.07.2013 passed in M.J.C. No. 2185 of 2013,

learned Writ Court hearing the modification application was not

apprised of the fact that all consignment of high risk food items
Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
29/34

are liable to be referred to authorized representative of FSSAI or

PHOs as the case may be for testing and clearance for testing and

clearance can be allowed only after testing report as per the

instructions contained in the Custom Circular No. 58/2001 dated

25.10.2001 (referred the Circular No. 3/11). The Court was also

not informed that the Custom authorities were authorized to take

samples and get them tested from the nearest Central Food

Laboratory. Further it appears that the guidelines for provisional

release of the seized goods as contained in Circular No. 35 of

20017 was not placed before the learned Writ Court. The

guidelines specifically provides in paragraph ‘2’ that the request

for provisional release of the seized food shall not be allowed in

the given cases, one of the cases in which release shall not be

allowed is where the goods do not fulfill the statutory compliance

requirements /obligations in terms of any Act, Rule, Regulation or

any other law for the time being enforced.

34. Further the information furnished by the Director

(Imports) in the communication dated 20th November, 2018 with

regard to merit of Betel/Areca Nut are also important to

appreciate. It clearly provides that Areca Nuts, commonly known

as Betel Nuts is capable of the formation of Fungal growth during

various stages of its production, storage or transportation,
Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
30/34

therefore, the consignment of imported Betel /Areca Nut shall not

be cleared through risk management system and all the imported

consignments shall be subjected to 100% sampling and testing.

The FSSAI’s authorized officers and custom officers as authorized

officers were therefore, advised to be vigilant and strictly ensure

the compliance of the FSS regulations before clearance of

consignments of imported Areca/Betel Nuts.

35. At this stage, this Court is getting a clarity as

regards the stage of testing of the Areca Nuts / Betel Nuts. In

terms of the views of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of

India as stated in the information dated 20th November, 2018,

Areca Nuts / Betel Nuts is to be tested strictly and it cannot be

said that the Betel Nuts being a raw material unless processed and

packed for sale for consumption, cannot be subjected to the

laboratory test. This Court is, therefore, of the considered opinion

that the plea which is being taken by learned counsel for the

petitioners citing the judgment of the learned Writ Court in

C.W.J.C. No. 3784 of 2013 and M.J.C. No. 2185 of 2013 cannot

be accepted. It is well settled law that a judgment of the Court is

always rendered in the facts placed before the Court and the

submissions made in the matter. Since this Court has found that

the aforesaid materials were not brought before the learned Writ
Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
31/34

Court in the case of Salsar Transport Company (supra), the said

decision cannot be applied on the face of the materials which have

been placed before this Court in the present case. Nothing has

been brought to show that the very sampling and testing of the

Areca Nut was not in accordance with law.

36. The another submission of learned counsel for the

petitioners that there cannot be a refusal to provisionally release

the goods on the grounds stated in Annexure ‘4’ to the writ

application is also not acceptable to this Court. The Court has

taken note of the detail guidelines issued by the Department of

Customs to streamline the divergent procedures being followed

for grant of provisional release of the goods which are seized

under Section 110 of the Customs Act, 1962. The provisional

release of the seized goods is to be refused when the goods do not

fulfill the statutory compliance requirements of any Act, Rule,

Regulation or any other law for the time being enforced.

37. In the present case, since the Food Laboratory

Report has found that the Betel Nut are not fit for human

consumption, in the opinion of this Court, no fault may be found

with the rejection of the request of the petitioners for grant of

release.

Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
32/34

38. Now coming to the another question with regard to

the sustainability of the seizure. This Court had earlier occasion to

deal one mater being C.W.J.C. No. 7589 of 2018 (M/s Ayesha

Exports vs. The Union of India and Ors.). In the said case the

solitary question which was considered by this Court was as to

whether the seizure report may be allowed to sustain when it is an

admitted position that M/s Areca Nut Research and Development

Foundation, Manglore is not accredited laboratory and it’s report

has been held to be of no legal sanctity by the learned Writ Court

in Salsar Transport Company (supra). In the same case the

seizure of Betel Nuts was sought to be done on the sole

consideration that the report of ADRF, Manglore declared that the

Betel Nuts seemed to be of Indonesian Origin. This Court held

that because in the case of Salsar Transport Company and Anr.

(supra) the report was not having any legal sanctity and there was

not material to show that the said laboratory is an accredited

laboratory by the competent authority, it’s report cannot have a

consequence of fastening of any legal liability. In the said case,

the information received under the Right to Information Act by

the petitioner were placed before this Court wherein the

Directorate of Areca Nuts and Spics Development, Government of

India in response to query as to whether a Betel Nut is indigenous
Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
33/34

grown or of foreign origin can be determined by means of any

laboratory test, the information supplied by the Government: “No

laboratory test has been standardized for tracing the country of

origin”.

39. It appears that after the aforesaid judgment passed

by this Court on 24.01.2019, the respondents came in action and

the matter was taken up at the level of the Ministry of Commerce

and Industry, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal

Trade. This Court has taken note of the office Memorandum dated

4th June, 2019 hereinabove which shows that about 4-5 labs have

already been accredited for testing Areca Nuts / Betel Nuts and

steps towards accreditation of ARDF and ICAR-IISR, Calicut

Labs were under discussion and it was to be done at the earliest.

40. Learned counsel for the Union of India, Department

of Customs has submitted that the developments so far may

persuade this Court not to interfere with the seizure at this stage

when the matter is still under investigation and a complete view

may be taken as regards the foreign origin after obtaining a report

from the accredited lab.

41. This Court is of the considered opinion that in the

given facts and circumstances of the case, where the matter is still

under investigation and even some accredited labs have come into
Patna High Court CWJC No.10109 of 2019 dt. 05 -09-2019
34/34

existence, this Court need not interfere with the seizure of the

Betel Nuts at this stage and this issue be kept open for

consideration at appropriate stage after the investigation is over

and the respondents receive a report as regards the country of

origin from an accredited lab within a period of three months by

following the established procedures.

42. In result, this Court finds no reason to interfere with

the impugned orders. The writ application has no merit. It is

dismissed accordingly.

(Rajeev Ranjan Prasad, J)
avin/-

AFR/NAFR AFR
CAV DATE 01.07.2019
Uploading Date 05.09.2019
Transmission Date

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