Business Standard

‘Golden’ jubilee of confiscati­on litigation


Confiscati­on proceeding­s in an incident of seizure of gold lasted 50 years, finally coming to an end in the Supreme Court last week, after winding its way through various authoritie­s and the Rajasthan High Court (HC) several times. In June 1965, gold control authoritie­s raided the house of Chaganlal and unearthed 240 kg of gold bars. It was done under the now extinct Defence of India Rules. The collector of Customs imposed a fine of ~25 lakh, which later ballooned to ~11.04 crore when the litigation travelled through various tribunals and courts. The HC ruled that the fine in lieu of confiscati­on must represent the value of the gold seized. Meanwhile, Chaganlal had died and his son pursued the case in the name, Gunwantlal vs Union of India. In the end, the confiscati­on was upheld. The government then wanted interest on the fine; “otherwise it would have the effect of permitting him to profit by litigation”. According to the Attorney General, the current value of the treasure would be nearly ~72 crore. The court allowed the son to redeem the gold buried by his father by paying the fine along with 10 per cent interest on it.

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