The judicial procedure, including appeal, in Customs matters is elaborated in the Customs Act, 1969. Sections 193, 193A, 193C, 194, 196, 196A, 196B, 196C, 196D, 196F, 196G, 196H, 196I, 196J, 196K,196L, 196M and 196N of Customs Act, 1969 deal with different appeal or review procedures relating to both administrative and judicial matters of customs.
Customs law provides for an administrative appeal to a higher-level official, with ultimate recourse to the courts. For example, when the decision or order is made by a customs officer below the rank of Commissioner, the appeal must be made first to the Commissioner (Appeal). If the appellant is not satisfied with the decision of the Commissioner (Appeal), he may take recourse to the Appellate Tribunal.
On the other hand, if the protested decision or order was passed by the Commissioner, the appeal will be made directly to the Appellate Tribunal.
At present, there are three Appeal Commissionerates and one Appellate Tribunal.
The law requires decisions on appeal to be issued in writing with reasons. The Appellate Tribunal is required to decide within 4 years from the date of receipt of the appeal; if not, the appeal is deemed allowed by the Appellate Tribunal.
Appeal to High Court Division
Persons not satisfied with the decision of the Appellate Tribunal have the right to appeal to the High Court Division of the Supreme Court. Again, where the decision by the Appellate Tribunal goes against Customs, the Act allows the respective Commissioner to appeal to the High Court Division.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Apart from the appeals to the Commissioners (Appeal) and Appellate Tribunal, the Customs Act, 1969 contains provisions incorporating an alternative dispute resolution process, including access to that process directly for certain assessment decisions made by customs officers. The ADR provisions are covered under Sections 192A to 192K of the Customs Act, 1969; and NBR SRO.