Duties & Liability of a Custodian
The responsibility of the custodian commences in respect of imported goods the moment the ship is berthed in the harbour or the goods are ready for unloading from the aircraft. While the imported goods are in the custody, the custodian has to ensure that no one removes the goods from the Customs area without the written permission of the proper officer. The law also prohibits any kind of dealing with the goods while the imported goods are in the custody of the custodian. “Dealing” for this purpose would include, opening of packing, repacking, sampling, movement from one spot to another and the like. All such steps which have to be taken by the importer or his agent must be supported by a written authorization by the Customs officer. The responsibility for safe custody of goods will subsist until the importer obtains an order of clearance from the proper officer of Customs and clears the goods from the Customs area.
Interestingly, Section 45 holds a custodian responsible for imported goods only. No reference is made in this section to export goods, which are also kept in the custody of the custodian. In fact, no analogous provision is found in respect of export goods. If there is any loss of goods from the Customs area after unloading and while the imported goods are in the custody of the custodian, he will be directly held responsible for such losses. However, these losses are restricted only in respect of duty payable on the lost goods. It does not extend to compensating the importer towards the value of goods. In this context, the definition of the words “ Customs area” found in Section 2(11) is important. It is defined as an area of Customs station in which imported goods or export goods are ordinarily kept before clearance by the Customs authorities.
The custodian would be liable to pay the applicable
duty of Customs on the lost or pilfered goods. The rate of
duty will be determined based on the date of filling of
IGM or Import Report under Section 30. [Sub-section (3)].
The custodian would be liable to pay the applicable duty of Customs on the lost or pilfered goods. The rate of duty will be determined based on the date of filling of IGM or Import Report under Section 30. [Sub-section (3)].