• Is importing 500 million year old fossil illegal?

I ordered a trilobite fossil (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilobite) as a mundane items to keep in my collection from a gift website (https://scishowfinds.com/) and was shipped from USA.

Now, I have been issued a show cause notice from Customs Department.

The notice claims that FOSSILS are parts and products of animals, import of which is prohibited under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and the provisions of Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of wild Fauna and Flora.

I am required to show cause as to why:
a) The FOSSIL should not be confiscated under Section 111(d) of Customs Act 1962
b) Penalty should not be imposed on me under Section 112(a) of the Customs act 1962

Question: Is it illegal to import a fossil? This is 500 million year old mineralized fossil of an extinct species. Humans have been on earth for only 4 million years. This is not a living or endangered animal or an animal product. 

How should I respond to the show cause notice?

I checked https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1781078/ (Wildlife Act)
I checked https://www.cites.org/eng/disc/text.php (Convention of International Trade)

Both do not explicitly mention anything about fossils. Please help.
Asked 4 years ago in Business Law

First answer received in 10 minutes.

Lawyers are available now to answer your questions.

7 Answers

See if so is the case you have to file an reply.to show cause notice and present before the adjudicating authority for personal hearing further the substantive record of the fossile needs to be filed along with reply that the fossil doesn't belong.to any of the animal which endangered and prohibited under treaty and act.

Further on such import prior permission is required anything related.to animal origin is imported a prior permission from wildlife authority is required that it effect no animal pollution in original country and no violation of treaty.

Now since show cause is issued a evidence regarding same that it is fossil and no animal was harmed no treaty is violated so it is not liable for confiscation and penalty should not be imposed.

Shubham Jhajharia
Advocate, Ahmedabad
25516 Answers
179 Consultations

5.0 on 5.0

In most countries import of fossil is illegal

2) you should in reply to show cause take the defence that you were not aware that import of fossil was banned

3) that you have no objection to goods being confiscated

4) that penalty be waived

Ajay Sethi
Advocate, Mumbai
87976 Answers
6207 Consultations

5.0 on 5.0

You cannot argue about why, what and when, especially when you have been slapped with a legal notice, that too with certain provisions of law.

All you have to do is to give a reply show causing your justification in the act that has been found to be illegal by the authorities concerned.

You can challenge the cited law provisions of law in the court when this matter is escalated to court by the authorities concerned if they are not satisfied with your reply.

Firstly try to defend your current status.

You may discuss this elaborately with your advocate at once and respond immediately or else the issue may develop into more complication.

T Kalaiselvan
Advocate, Vellore
78133 Answers
1543 Consultations

5.0 on 5.0

File a writ petition against customs authority. They are just entertaining themselves at the cost of bonafide citizens

V Ranjan
Advocate, Delhi
62 Answers

5.0 on 5.0


In light of the provisions of the act you may tender a reply to the customs department. If however they confisticate the fossil you may prefer a writ petition in the HC against the confiscation order.

Note that there is no explicit order prohibiting the same.


Anilesh Tewari
Advocate, New Delhi
17940 Answers
377 Consultations

5.0 on 5.0

You'll have to reply to the legal notice received by you by the custom dept. stating that there is no express provision of law which bars a person from importing fossils in india for collection purposes and you have not done anything illegal, hence there is no need for confiscation or penalty as the said fossil do not belong to any endangered specie but of a extinct specie, hence it is not in contravention with any statutory law.

Siddharth Jain
Advocate, New Delhi
5933 Answers
101 Consultations

5.0 on 5.0

Dear Client,

Fossils shall comes under definition of animals articles, Don`t get confuse with nomenclature.

Neither u can reasoned, was unaware of ordering fossils illegal without license.

Ignorance of Law no excuse,

Well, in act Prohibition of trade or commerce in trophies, animal articles, etc. derived from certain animals is find illegal and no mention of retail buying of articles for collection and so will be your response.

Yogendra Singh Rajawat
Advocate, Jaipur
21481 Answers
31 Consultations

4.4 on 5.0

Ask a Lawyer

Get legal answers from lawyers in 1 hour. It's quick, easy, and anonymous!
  Ask a lawyer