Rajvinder Singh Bath v. Commissioner of Customs

Gitanjali SadanCase Summary

Admissibility of digital evidence in proceedings under the Customs Act, 1962

Rajvinder Singh Bath v. Commissioner of Customs
In the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal
Custom Appeal 60758,60759/2019
Before Mr Ashok Jindal, Judicial Member and Mr Sanjiv Srivastava, Technical Member
Decided on February 03, 2021

Relevancy of the case: Admissibility of digital evidence in proceedings under the Customs Act, 1962

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  •  The Customs Act, 1962 (Section 138C)
  • The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (Section 65B)
  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 2(1)(t), 2(1)(o))

Relevant Facts of the Case

  •  The appellants are importers of bicycle parts. Information was received about the appellants engaging in the invasion of customs duty.
  • The appellants loaded bicycles parts from China and routed the same through Malaysia. Therefore, they wrongly availed the benefit of a Notification dated June 01, 2011, issued under the Preferential Trade Agreement.
  • Hence, a show cause was issued. The adjudication authority relied on the documents recovered and statements recorded during the investigation.

 Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The appellant’s counsel submitted that the entire case relies on the documents recovered from the email. These documents became a part of the investigation; however, the procedure under Section 138C of the Customs Act was not followed.
  • The counsel further submitted that the printouts of such emails as documents will be admissible only if they are accompanied by a certificate in terms of Section 138C. This is because printouts are secondary evidence under Section 65 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
  • The authorised representative of the Counsel submits that the evidence relied on this case as proper. Moreover, it complies with the applicable provisions of law. Moreover, the appellant duly signed and certified each message in the email. Also, they did not dispute the authenticity of the email.
  • The authorised representative further stated that it is corroborative evidence that brings out a well-organised fraud.
  • He further referred to the definition of the term “electronic records” and “data” under Sections 2(1)(t) and 2(1)(o) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 respectively. He also referred to the case of Arjun Panditrao Khotkar v Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal (2020).

Opinion of the Bench

  • The bench opined that they did not find merit in the submissions and cases laws submitted by the appellants.

Final Decision

  • The tribunal dismissed the appeal.