Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Section 130E(b) of the Customs Act, 1962 should be in harmony with Chapter IV of Part V of the Constitution

Supreme Court: Explaining the scope of the appellate power of the Supreme Court under Section 130E(b)of the Customs Act, 1962, the Bench of Ranjan Gogoi and Ashok Bhushan, JJ enumerated certain conditions that need to be fulfilled before admitting any case under the said provision.

The Conditions are as follows:

  • It is a sine qua non for the admission of the appeal before this Court under Section 130E(b) of the Act that the question raised or arising must have a direct and/or proximate nexus to the question of determination of the applicable rate of duty or to the determination of the value of the goods for the purposes of assessment of duty.
  • The question raised must involve a substantial question of law which has not been answered or, on which, there is a conflict of decisions necessitating a resolution.
  • If the tribunal, on consideration of the material and relevant facts, had arrived at a conclusion which is a possible conclusion, the same must be allowed to rest even if this Court is inclined to take another view of the matter.
  • The tribunal had acted in gross violation of the procedure or principles of natural justice occasioning a failure of justice.

Stating that the above-mentioned list should not be treated to be exhaustive, the Court said that Section 130E(b) of the Act provides for a direct appeal to the Supreme Court against an Order of the appellate tribunal, broadly speaking, on a question involving government revenue. This seems to be in view of the fact that the order that would be under appeal may go beyond the inter se dispute between the parties and effect upon a large number of assessees. The issue, in such an event, surely will be one of general/public importance.

Noticing that Chapter IV of Part V of the Constitution expressly limits the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to (i) a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution, (ii) a substantial question of law of general importance, the Court said that while construing the extent of the appellate jurisdiction to be exercised by the Supreme Court under a statutory enactment, the role of the Supreme Court as envisaged by the Constitution cannot altogether be lost sight of. Hence, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Section 130E(b) of the Act or the pari materia provisions of any other Statute would be in harmony with those contained in Chapter IV of Part V of the Constitution. [Steel Authority of India v. Designated Authority, Directorate General Of Anti-Dumping & Allied Duties, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 409, decided on 17.04.2017]

 

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