Typographical Error Not a Ground to Quash Criminal Proceedings u/s 135 of Customs Act: Madras HC [Read Order]

The Madras High Court has held that the typographical error is not a ground to quash criminal proceedings under section 135 of the Customs Act, 1962. Mr. Pranav Charan, counsel appeared for the petitioner, Naveen Kumar and Mr. P. Vishnu, Special Public Prosecutor (Customs) appeared for the respondent. Officers from the Air Cargo Intelligence Unit examined a courier parcel in the Fedex Dedicated Courier Terminal.

On examination of the parcel, it was found that it was a regular cover of Fedex and inside the cover, it was found another brown cardboard cover with the sender’s address as “from Naresh”, 1st accused and the recipient’s address was also the same.  The said box contained two books and on scrutinizing the books, it was found that cavities were made inside the books by removing the inner portion of the pages, leaving the pages, wherein four packets wrapped in carbon paper.

It was found to be heroin and the same has been attempted to be smuggled out of India by concealing the same inside the books in contravention of the Customs Act, 1962 and N.D.P.S. Act, 1985.  After investigation and after being accorded sanction, the respondent has filed a complaint for the offences U/s.8(c) of NDPS ACT and sections 21, 23, 28 and 29 of NDPS Act, 1985 r/w  Sections 132 and 135 of the Customs Act, 1962.

The counsel appearing for the petitioner would submit that the petitioner is arrayed as A2, who was employed as Operation Manager to M/s.Federal Express Service (India) Pvt. Ltd., He, on receipt of the summons, on behalf of M/s. Federal Express Service (India) Pvt. Ltd., as Operation Manager, represented on behalf of the Company and appeared before the authority, for enquiry.  Therefore no summons were served in his capacity.  The petitioner neither indulged in any offence of smuggling contraband subsidies nor aided the commission of the offence.  There is no provision U/s.8(c) of the NDPS Act.

The sanction was accorded by the Principal Commissioner of Customs, Chennai-I Commissionerate only to prosecute the accused persons under Clause 3 of the NDPS (Regulation of Controlled Substances) Order 1993 r/w Section 8(c) of the N.D.P.S. ACT 1985 (as amended) and punishable under Sections 21, 23, 28 and 29 of the N.D.P.S. Act, 1985 read with Section 135 of the Customs Act, 1962. Whereas the respondent complained about the offence punishable under Section 8(c) of the N.D.P.S. Act read with Sections 132 and 135 of the Customs Act.  No sanction was accorded to prosecute the accused under Section 132 of the Customs Act.

The said offence is in no way connected to the petitioner.  Though there were 4 boxes of contraband, the respondent had taken the sample from one box only and it is evident from the Mahazar. On perusal of the statement from the petitioner,  he categorically admitted that he was in charge of Fedex Express Services (India) Pvt. Ltd., and he was engaged in the courier clearance of international shipping. Therefore he is liable to be prosecuted under the NDPS Act as well as Customs Act. Justice G K Ilanthiraiyan observed that “the petitioner is prosecuted for the offence under Section 135 of the Customs Act and not for the offence under Section 132 of the Customs Act.

Further, there is a typographical error, instead of Section 9(c) of the NDPS  Act, it has been typed as Section 8(c) of NDPS Act in the complaint and it is nothing but a curable defect and it is not a ground for  quashing the proceedings as against the petitioner.” The court refused to quash the proceedings against the petitioner and dismissed the petition.

Leave a Reply