CHENNAI: The Madras High Court held that if the value of gold ornaments worn by foreign tourists exceeded Rs 50,000, they have to declare it under the Customs Baggage Declaration Regulations, 2013.
“Import of gold or silver ornaments exceeding Rs 50,000 cannot be considered as part of bonafide baggage of tourists travelling to India. The petitioner should have paid customs duty if they intended to deliver, sell or gift them to a person in India. On the other hand, if they intended to retain them, they should request the proper officer to detain them for being returned to them,” Justice C Saravanan held.
The order was passed while rejecting a petition filed by Chandrasegaram Vijayasundaram, Vijayasundaram Mahalakshmi, Chandrasegaram Rajaluxmi, Somasundaram Chandrasegaram, and Raveendhiran Shanthadevi – all Sri Lankan nationals.
The petitioners belong to the same family prayed for a direction to quash the order passed by Principal Commissioner (Revision Application) and Ex Officio Additional Secretary to Government of India, Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue confiscating the gold and liquor and imposition of redemption fine and penalty under Section 125 and Section 112 (a) of the Customs Act, 1962. They submitted that they had arrived from Colombo to Chennai on a pilgrimage tour. The family wore jewels weighing 1,594 gm and had 112 liquor bottles. They were intercepted by Customs officials at Chennai airport.
“Our jewels and liquor bottles were confiscated, and penalties were imposed by the joint commissioner of customs, and this was confirmed by the principal commissioner (revision application),” the petitioners held.
However, the judge rejected the plea observing that as per the Customs Baggage Declaration Regulations, 2013, (read with Baggage Rules 2016), the tourists who visit should make a declaration if they wore jewels worth above Rs 50,000.
Further, he held that petitioners could not be considered pilgrims as they had 112 liquor bottles and tried to walk through the green channel.