The Bombay High Court recently directed a city jewellery firm to pay more than Rs 24 lakh to the customs department as unpaid dues along with penalty. The court has also ruled that the customs department was correct in holding more than 63,000 carats of diamonds liable for confiscation.
The firm,B V Jewels,has been engaged in the manufacture and export of gold jewellery studded with diamonds since 1988. In an inspection carried out in 2000,the department is said to have found that the firm was not maintaining its records properly and claimed to have detected a significant amount of diamonds which had been imported without paying duty. The department then issued a show-cause notice to the company in June 2000.
Putting forward its stand before a Division Bench of Justice J P Devdhar and Justice M S Sanklecha,senior counsel V Shridharan pointed that at the time of import,a single order contains several jewellery items,of which only the total weight in carats is mentioned. According to Shridharan,once the consignment is opened,it is impossible to co-relate a particular diamond with the original import documents.
However,the judges,while rejecting this contention,relied on a statement of an employee of the firm made to the department. The employee said the assorter of the jewels is given details regarding its import.
The judges upheld the stand taken by the counsel for the Commissioner of Customs (Airport) that the order was correct and that no interference was required with it.
The respondents have been able to establish the illicit procurement of cut and polished diamonds by the appellant and fault cannot be found with the order, the order read.