N.K. Sodhi, J.
1. Petitioner is a proprietorship concern of one Rakesh Kumar resident of Mandi Gobindgarh. It is registered as a dealer under the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948 (for short the Act). It is alleged that in the normal course of business the petitioner sold goods to Aman Marble Granite, Dholpur in Rajasthan for an amount of Rs. 2,74,841/- and the gods were despatched as per bill No.2 on 11.4.2000. It is further alleged that the sale was inter-State and, therefore, a sum of Rs. 5,497/- was paid as central sales tax. The goods were transported through Zenith Transport Company, Mandi Gobindgarh as per goods receipt dated 11.4.2000. On 12.4.2000 when the vehicle and the goods were on their way to Dholpur, the Excise and Taxation Officer (Mobile Squad), intercepted the vehicle at Shambhu Barrier as he had reason to suspect that the goods were not covered by proper and genuine documents. He detained the vehicle and the goods and issued a detention memo in which the following reason for detention had been mentioned:
"There is no bill or goods receipt. Needs verification."
2. The grievance now made in this petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution is that Shri S.S. Banger Excise and Taxation Officer (Mobile Squad) who detained the goods is not releasing them even though the petitioner executed a bond with sureties in the prescribed manner. Notice of motion was issued in this case. Shri Banger appeared in person and stated that the petitioner appeared before him only on 18.4.2000 for the release of goods without any surety bonds and when he was told to furnish security as required to Sub-section (6)(i) of Section 14B of the Act he appeared again on 20.4.2000 with surety bonds but by that time he had already sent the file to the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner for taking necessary action in the matter and, therefore, he could not release the goods. He admitted that the goods had not been released till today and stated that the petitioner should approach the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner for the said purpose.
3. We are amazed at the stand taken by the Excise and Taxation Officer. The power to impose penalty, if any, or take any other action against the petitioner is, of course, with the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner but in terms of Sub-section (6)(i) of Section 14B of the Act under which the goods have been detained, it is the duty of the detaining officer to release the goods if the consignor or consignee furnishes security or executes a bond with sureties in the prescribed manner. When the petitioner furnished a bond with sureties there was no reason why Shri Banger did not release the goods as under the statute he alone was duty bound to release them no matter where the file was. The petitioner states that this officer keeps harassing the transporters at the barrier and detains goods some times on flimsy grounds and refuses to release them even when security is furnished. Similar allegations have been made against this officer in some other cases as well which are still pending before us. Without expressing any opinion on the merits of those cases, we cannot resist in observing that the excuse given by this officer in this case cannot be accepted and his conduct justified. The plea that the file was not with him appears to be more of a mode to harass the petitioner. We, therefore, allow this writ petition and direct the respondents to release the goods forthwith. Since the goods and the vehicle were detained even after the petitioner executed a bond with sureties, we direct respondent No.2 to pay by way of compensation a sum of Rs. 10,000/- to the petitioner. This amount shall be paid by Shri Banger personally and shall not be debited to the State account. The petitioner will also be entitled to have his costs which are assessed at Rs.2,000/-.
4. Copy of this order be sent to the Financial Commissioner (Taxation)-cum-Secretary, Excise and Taxation Department, Government of Punjab, Civil Secretariat, Chandigarh for information conveying our displeasure at the manner in which Shri Banger has discharged his duties which has resulted in un-necessary and avoidable harassment to the public.
5. Before parties, it may be observed that this order relates only to the release of goods and nothing said herein will preventable authorities from proceeding against the petitioner in accordance with law if it is so called for.