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Salzer Electronics Ltd vs. The Commissioner of Customs - (Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal) (16 Feb 2024)

Expert opinion cannot be used as a conclusive proof and is only corroborative in nature



The issue that arises for consideration is whether the imported goods viz. '14 sets of Plastic Injection Moulds' are eligible for the benefit of Notification No.22/2013 dated 18th April, 2013. The Department has denied the benefit of exemption from duty alleging that the goods are used / second hand goods.

As per para 5.1 (e) of FTP, the second hand goods are not permitted to be imported under EPCG scheme. From the records, it is seen that the goods were examined by a Chartered Engineer who has reported that the goods are 'used' and 'not new'.

The goods have been imported after 1½ years of placing the purchase order. The learned counsel submitted that due to certain market constraints, their import was delayed. The report given by the Chartered Engineer that the goods appear to be used is not supported by any scientific or technical basis. The expert opinion cannot be used as a conclusive proof and is only corroborative in nature. Unless the expert gives an appropriate reason for his opinion, the same cannot be blanketly accepted in evidence. Such report cannot be given precedence over other evidence. In the present case, the moulds do have the etching of the word 'SALZER'. The expert in his report has not mentioned this for reasons best known to him.

Though opinion of an expert does help Court to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion; but this not mean that an expert opinion has to be accepted invariably in all situations. This would amount to delegation of judicial function. The report does not state the facts on which the Chartered Engineer made the conclusion that the moulds are used, second hand moulds. The expert is not to expected to give his impressions but has to state the facts on which he draws the opinion. The reliance placed by the adjudicating authority and Commissioner (Appeals) solely on the expert opinion cannot be accepted.

As per the records such as date and description in purchase order, drawings and the photographs, the contention of the appellant that the goods imported are new is probable and acceptable. The overseas supplier has issued a certificate stating that the goods are new. The said certificate though produced before the authorities, was not considered at all. There are no grounds to deny the benefit of exemption of Notification No.22/2013 dated 18th April, 2013. So also, there is no legal basis for enhancement of the value. The duty demand, confiscation or redemption fine and the penalties cannot sustain. The impugned order is set aside. Appeal is allowed.


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