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Millennium Post

Customs Dept directed to pay `94L to foreigner for selling off seized gold

New Delhi: The Customs Department has been directed by the Delhi High Court to pay Rs 94 lakh to a foreigner for hurriedly selling off nearly 4 kg gold seized from her even though the proceedings were pending in the court.

When the high court was informed that the proceeds collected during the auction were equal to the value of the gold, Rs 93,34,783, it directed the Customs Department which comes under the Ministry of Finance, to refund the amount to the Kenyan national by June 30.

On failure to refund the amount by the time fixed, the authorities will have to pay the money along with simple interest at 6 per cent per annum on the sum for the period of delay, it said.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta set aside the adjudication order passed by the Commissioner of Customs (Airport and General) confiscating the seized gold and imposing Rs 18 lakh penalty on her.

The court questioned the customs officials as to why they were constrained to dispose of the seized gold when it was neither perishable nor hazardous.

The officials had no explanation to offer for this action, it noted.

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