HOW TO HANDLE ENHANCEMENT OF IMPORT ASSESSABLE VALUE ISSUES?
The Customs authorities do not clear a consignment as per the declared transaction value in the bill of entry but insisted that the importers should give a letter agreeing to pay customs duty as per the valuation by the customs authorities and compel them to forego their right to provisional assessment under Section 18 of the Customs Act. The appellants, coerced and intimated, have no option but to give in and issue a letter of consent agreeing to assessment/valuation by the customs authorities to avoid delay in clearance, levy of demurrage, ground rent and container detention charges, etc.
Customs also discard the declared transactional value and recompute the consignment value based on a valuation alert. Is Revenue's actions tenable ?
No. The transaction value mentioned in the bill of entry should not be discarded unless there are contrary details of contemporaneous imports or other material indicating and serving as corroborative evidence of import at or near the time of import which would justify rejection of the declared value and enhancement of the price declared in the bill of entry.
Director General of Valuation based on the monitoring of valuation trends of sensitive commodities with a view to take corrective measures can provide guidance to the field formation in valuation matters. They help ensure uniform practice, smooth functioning and prevent evasion and short payment of duty. However, they should not be construed as interfering with the discretion of the assessment authority who is required to pass an Assessment Order in the given factual matrix.
Declared valuation can be rejected based upon the evidence which qualifies and meets the criteria of certain reasons.
In this landmark case, Apex Court also declared that this order is not issued under any general or omnibus direction that the transaction value declared in the bill of entries should invariably be accepted in all cases and/or that in all cases where imports of aluminium scrap are involved. The matter has to be examined on a case to case basis, the evidence before the authorities, the material placed on record and the enquiries conducted by the adjudicating authorities etc
Takeaway from this case :
On interpreting Section 18 of the Act, it is held that when there is a dispute between the customs authorities and the importer as regards the valuation of the imported goods, on satisfaction of the conditions enumerated in sub-section (1), the authorities should make provisional assessment of customs duty under Section 18 of the Act. This expedites clearance, pending final adjudication on merits which may take time. This is also the mandate of the Board Circular No.38/2016 dated 22nd August, 2016. Any insistence and compulsion by the authorities that the importer should disclaim and forgo his statutory right under Section 18 of the Act would not be correct. Neither would it be right to reject the valuation as declared by the importer without reasonable doubt for certain reasons. Hence Provisional assessment should be allowed by customs in such valuation dispute cases.
CENTURY METAL RECYCLING PVT. LTD. AND ANOTHER VERSUS UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS, SUPREME COURT, decided on 17.05.2019
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