As you aware Shipping Bill conversion from one scheme to another can be made within 3 months from the date of Let Export order. But in relevant Customs Act section 149, the time limit is not specifically mentioned and it says “in such form and manner, within such time, subject to such restrictions and conditions, as may be prescribed”.
Let us see relevant parts of Customs Act and circular ;
SECTION 149. Amendment of documents. - Save as otherwise provided in sections 30 and 41, the proper officer may, in his discretion, authorise any document, after it has been presented in the custom house to be amended 1[in such form and manner, within such time, subject to such restrictions and conditions, as may be prescribed]:
Provided that no amendment of a bill of entry or a shipping bill or bill of export shall be so authorised to be amended after the imported goods have been cleared for home consumption or deposited in a warehouse, or the export goods have been exported, except on the basis of documentary evidence which was in existence at the time the goods were cleared, deposited or exported, as the case may be.
Circular No. 36/2010-Customs Dt. 23rd September, 2010 clause 3 (a) The request for conversion is made by the exporter within three months from the date of the Let Export Order (LEO).
But Kerala High Court took a different view which may be useful to many exporters who seeks Shipping bill conversion from one scheme to another after lapse of three months.
Let us see relevant part of the order ;
For the purpose of issuance of No Objection, provisions of Section 149 of the Customs Act, 1962 envisage the complete procedure for issuance of no objection certificate, ie for the purpose of amendment of a bill of entry or a shipping bill only after fulfilling certain conditions in the proviso.
It is trite ( meaning : lacking originality) law that circulars cannot assume the role of the Principal Act lest (meaning : with the intention of preventing) the provisions only a binding force. If at all the revenue is facing difficulties in accepting and processing applications for amendment of Shipping Bills, an amendment to the Principal Act can be suggested in accordance with law and till the pendency of the same, an Ordinance can also be issued.
The action of the Customs Dept refusing amendments after lapse of three months cannot be accepted, for, it is an utter violation of statutory provision of Section 149 of the Customs Act.
PARAYIL FOOD PRODUCTS PVT. LTD. VERSUS UNION OF INDIA, CENTRAL BOARD OF EXCISE AND CUSTOMS, COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS, JOINT DIRECTOR GENERAL OF FOREIGN TRADE, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS (EXPORTS), KERALA HIGH COURT,decided on 19.10.2020
Author Remarks : Till amendment of section 149 or issuance of an Ordinance with specified time limit for amendments & unless otherwise Customs goes for appeal against this high court order, Shippers can refer this judgement for Shipping bill scheme conversions, if Customs department refuse to amend / issue NOC by citing three months limitation as per circular No.36/2010
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