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DRI sells jeweller’s gold, Bombay HC notices to senior officers | Mumbai News – Times of India



MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has sought replies from two senior officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) upon learning that gold seized from a jewellery shop in Zaveri Bazaar was sold by it.
Justices Girish Kulkarni and Jitendra Jain were hearing a petition by Choksi Arvind Jewellers to quash and set aside the seizure memo and direct unconditional release of the seized gold. It said the jeweller had submitted all necessary documents regarding the purchase of the gold from an individual. Despite letters to release the gold, DRI had not done so.
On May 12, DRI seized 24-carat gold bars weighing over 741g and 22-carat gold coins weighing over 861g from the jeweller. DRI claimed the gold had foreign markings on it and its market value was around Rs 97 lakh.
The seizure memo was issued by Manish Kumar, senior intelligence officer. It recorded that a few Sudanese nationals were intercepted at the airport and “gold dust in wax and cut pieces of gold bars” were found in their possession. This led to raids at several places, including the jeweller’s.
After the jeweller wrote to DRI, Kumar replied on August 11 that a showcause notice will be issued within a specified time under the customs Act and, thereafter, an adjudication officer will decide the matter based on submissions made by the owner of the seized goods.
Fearing that the gold is likely to be sold, the jeweller moved the high court on September 11, seeking urgent relief. The jeweller’s advocates Sujit Sahoo and Rutuj Warick argued that this is a case of blatant, arbitrary and illegal action as DRI had exercised power of search and seizure merely on suspicion and seized gold from the shop.
On September 20, DRI’s advocate Ruju Thakker said the gold had already been disposed of on September 1.
The judges questioned how despite the August 11 letter that refers to the issue of showcause notice in respect of seized goods, DRI went ahead and disposed of the gold, which could have well been kept in custody as it is non-perishable. They directed “the respondents and, more particularly, the officers who were dealing with the matter i.e. Manish Kumar and the additional director general to place on record a reply affidavit”.
Adjourning the hearing to October 4, the judges framed three issues to consider. Firstly, whether DRI’s action to sell the gold was legal and valid in view of the August 11 letter. Also, under what provision of law or notification the sale of non-perishable goods was justified. Lastly, if the sale is held to be illegal, what action “the law would mandate to be taken against the officers so as to compensate the petitioner for the loss”.



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