Dalveer Bhandari, J. (Oral)
1. This appeal is directed against the order of the Chairman, Foreign Exchange Regulation Appellate Board dated 21.12.1976.
2. The charge against the appellant is that during the year 1969 the appellant without the general or special exemption from the Reserve bank of India received in India otherwise than through an authorised dealer payment amounting to Rs.15,000/- from a person resident in India and thereby contravened the provisions of section 5(1)(aa) of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1947.
3. The Assistant Director of Enforcement by his order dated 31.12.1976 held the appellant guilty of the charge levelled against him and imposed a penalty of Rs. 1,000/- for the contravention of the provisions of section 5(1)(aa) of the Act.
4. Against that order an appeal was preferred to the Chairman, Foreign Exchange Regulation Appellate Board. The order passed by the Assistant Director was upheld in the appeal.
5. This appeal has been filed under Section 54 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973 read with Section 81 thereof, corresponding to Section 23 (FF) of the Act of 1947).
6. Mr. N.C.Chawla, Advocate had appeared for the appellant on 5.4.1978. The Court issued notice. This matter has been on the board for quite some time but neither the appellant nor Mr.Chawla, Advocate appeared. Even today Mr. Chawla is not present though the case was passed over many a times. The Court requested Mr.Pawan Bahl, Advocate to assist the Court as an amices Curiae. No one is appearing for the Union of India.
7. On the Court’s request Mr.Neeraj Kaul, a panel Counsel for the UOI appeared in this case on behalf of the Union of India.
8. Mr.Bahl submits that the offence, if any, is almost 31 years old. The charge was framed against the appellant some time in 1969. It is also not clear from the record whether the penalty of Rs.1,000/- imposed by the Assistant Director was deposited or not because the complete record is not available. Counsel for the appellant has also not appeared. I am not inclined to adjourn such an old case.
9. In this view of the matter, I would not like to decide the questions of law involved in this appeal. The question of law is left open. Since the matter is more than thirty years old and no record is available, in the interest of justice, I deem it appropriate to direct that in case the amount of penalty of Rs.1,000/- has not been already deposited, the same shall not be recovered by the respondent because the UOI is likely to spend much more amount in recovering the amount than the total amount involved in this case.
10. The appeal is accordingly disposed of.