CUSTOMS High Court Case

Customs – petitioner challenging levy of wharfage on its vessel which is engaged in the activity of laying undersea cable within the Indian Territorial Waters – petitioner view that the vessel cannot be subjected to levy of wharfage unless there were any goods unloaded or transhipped in the second respondent Port – HELD – once the Port Trust has declared the vessel itself as a cargo, in view of its activity of laying undersea cable, it is well within the power of the Port Trust authorities to levy wharfage against the vessel itself. When the vessel itself is involved in the activity which carry the fiber-optic cable and other submerged equipment to be laid on the sea bed, there is no escape from the demand of wharfage against the activity of the vessel belonging to the petitioner at the time when it was berthed in the Port - the vessel was rightly manifested as cargo, in view of its admitted activity of laying undersea cable by way of importing its services for their client in India, the charge towards wharfage as demanded by the Port Trust, cannot be the subject matter of controversy or dispute - though it was a requirement for the Customs Act in regard to the filling up of import general manifest, nevertheless, the activity of the vessel itself was rightly manifested as cargo - Once the vessel was manifested as cargo, the consequence of that was to levy wharfage as per the rates applicable for such import of cargo – no merit in the present writ petition and the same is dismissed

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