Commissioner of Customs v. Sachdev Overseas Fitness Pvt. Ltd.
In the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal
Customs Early Hearing Appeal 30164/2020 in Customs Appeal 30546/2019
Before Mr P.K. Choudhary, Judicial Member and Mr P.V. Subba Rao, Technical Member
Decided on April 19, 2022
Relevancy of the Case: Admissibility of digital evidence in a proceeding before the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal
Statutes and Provisions Involved
- The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 3, 67C, 79A)
- The Customs Act, 1962 (Section 14, 138C)
- The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (Section 62, 65A, 65B)
- The Customs Act, 1962 (Section 14, 108)
- The Customs Valuation (Determination of Value of Imported Goods) Rules, 2007 (Rule 1-14)
Relevant Facts of the Case
- In a previous order, the Hyderabad Customs Commissionerate dropped off all the proceedings initiated by a show-cause notice against the respondent.
- The respondent imported fitness equipment from China and Taiwan. Officers of DRI received intelligence that the respondent imported goods on invoices of lower value to evade duty.
- The officers of DRI conducted a search in the office and residence of the respondent. The officers were able to procure a pen drive, invoices from the original manufacturer from China and Taiwan, and other evidence with the search.
- After examination and analysis of all the digital evidence, the content was retrieved in an Excel file. The Excel file revealed various pieces of evidence of undervaluation.
Prominent Arguments by the Advocates
- The appellant’s counsel argued that all the digital evidence was shared with and acknowledged by the respondent. Therefore, the adjudicating authority made an error in rejecting the digital evidence’s evidentiary value.
- The respondent’s counsel submitted that the appellant did not provide the hash copy. Further, the appellant did not prove digital evidence in accordance with Section 65B of the Evidence Act, 1872 and Section 3 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Opinion of the Bench
- The proper officer can call for information to confirm the truth and accuracy of the transaction value.
- The bench noted the seriousness of the undervaluation of goods but also considered that if one of the goods has been undervalued, not all other imports can be undervalued.
- The pen drive is inadmissible as evidence. Therefore, the court cannot interfere with the impugned order.
- The tribunal rejected the appeal.
Ritesh Karale, an undergraduate student at Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai, and Yagyanseni Acharya, an undergraduate student at VIT School of Law, Chennai, prepared this case summary during their internship with The Cyber Blog India in January/February 2024.