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What is the case about ? 

  • The present case is a writ petition filed under article 32 of the Indian Constitution which brings Article 21 of the constitution at the front desk before the honourable Supreme Court.
  • The matter is regarding right of an accused under Customs Act, 1962 to settle the dispute as per the provisions of the said act in light of fundamental right to life and personal liberty.
  • The writ petitioners is an NRI allegedly accused for trying to smuggle high value goods mainly watches. The Petitioner was passing through green channel of entry at Delhi International Airport.
  • He was arrested for committing offence under Section 132 and 135 of the Customs Act. He was unable to travel outside India and as such he has been amenable to settle the dispute by approaching Settlement Commission under Section 127 of the Act.
  • Settlement Commission heard the matter and conflict between two judgements of the Bombay High Court and the Delhi High Court was brought to the notice of the court.

Contention of the parties 

  • The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant submitted that it is necessary to solve the conflict between the judgements of the two respectful high courts. If it is left untouched, then it would pose great harm to the accused persons charged under the Customs Act.
  • The counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent submitted that the primary relief sought by the petitioner was limited to providing  home cooked food to undertrial prisoners therefore this court is not the Forum no resolve the conflict between the judgements.

Observations of the Court 

  • The court disposed the petition and directed that practice of circumventing the well established principles should not be encouraged.
  • Court held that the conflict between the judgements has the potential to cause harm to the accused persons even in future.The two cases are Union Of India vs Suresh Raheja & Ors and Additional Commission of Customs vs Ashok Kumar.
  • Court after examination the facts and circumstances of the respective cases in light of section 123 and 127B of the Customs Act held that the judgment rendered by the High Court of Bombay in the Suresh judgment depicts  the correction position of law.
  • Court held that if a passengers passing from green channel of entry is found to have dutiable goods then they become liable to penalty action under the act. They are provided with the benefit of settlement under the Customs Act.
  • Such an accused can opt for statutory remedy of settlement
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