Right to Information Act, 2005- Customs
In order to comply with the provisions of section 4 (1)(b) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, the desired information for Customs field formations as a whole is as under:
(i) PARTICULARS OF ORGANISATION, FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES:
The Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) is the apex body for customs matters. Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) is a part of the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance, Government of India. CBEC deals with the task of formulation of policy concerning levy and collection of customs duties, prevention of smuggling and evasion of duties and all administrative matters relating to customs formations. The Board discharges the various tasks assigned to it, with the help of its field organizations namely the Customs, Customs (preventive) and Central Excise zones, Commissionerate of Customs, Customs (preventive), Central Revenues Control Laboratory and Directorates. It also ensures that taxes on foreign and inland travel are administered as per law and the collection agencies deposit the taxes collected to the public exchequer promptly.
Zones of Customs, Central Excise and Customs (Preventive)
There are 23 zones of Central Excise & Customs, 11 zones of Customs & Customs (Preventive) spread across the country. These zones are headed by the Chief Commissioners.
Commissionerates of Customs and Customs (Preventive)
There are 93 Central Excise & Customs Commissionerates spread across the country. These Commissionerates perform executive functions entrusted by the Board, predominantly concerning central excise duty. Some of these Commissionerates also deal with customs and anti-smuggling work in their respective jurisdictions.
There are 35 Commissionerates exclusively of Customs and Customs (preventive) spread all over the country. These Commissionerates have been assigned following functions :
(a) Implementation of the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962 and the allied acts, which includes levy and collection of customs duties and enforcement functions in their earmarked jurisdiction.
(b) Surveillance of coastal and land borders to prevent smuggling activities. Marine and telecommunications wings and available with the Board to assist these Commissionerates in their anti-smuggling work and surveillance of sensitive coastline.
There are 67 Commissioners of Central Excise and Customs (Appeals). The appellate machinery, comprising the Commissioners (Appeals), deals with appeals filed against the orders passed by the officers lower in rank than Commissioner of Customs & Central Excise under the Customs Act, 1962, Central Excise Act, 1944 and Service Tax laws.
Four posts of Commissioner (Adjudication) - one each at Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Bangalore - have come into being in the reorganized set-up to decide the cases which have all-India ramifications and high revenue stakes. These Commissioners attend to Central Excise as well as Customs cases.
The Board vide notification no. 14/2002-Cus(NT) dated 07.03.2002 as amended from time to time have appointed the officers mentioned in column (2) of the Table below to be the Chief Commissioners of Customs, for the areas falling within the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Customs, or as the case may be, the Commissioner of Central Excise mentioned in the corresponding entry in column (3) of the said Table.
Furthermore, vide Notification No.15/2002-Customs (N.T.) dated 07.03.2002 as amended from time to time the Central Government has appointed the officers mentioned in column (3) of the Table below to be the Commissioners of Customs, the officers mentioned in column (4) thereof to be the Additional Commissioners of Customs or Joint Commissioners of Customs, the officers mentioned in column (5) thereof to be the Deputy Commissioners of Customs or Assistant Commissioners of Customs, for the areas mentioned in the corresponding entry in column (2) of the said Table.
Furthermore, vide Notification No.16/2002-Customs (N.T.) dated 07.03.2002 as amended from time to time the Central Government has appointed the officers mentioned in column (2) of the Table below to be Commissioner of Customs (Appeals), and such officers shall have the jurisdiction in relation to an order or decision of the officer subordinate to the officer as mentioned in the column (3) of the said Table.
1. Indian Customs are assigned a number of tasks more important of which are: -
2. The Constitutional provisions have given to Union the right to legislate and collect duties on imports and exports as per the entry at Sl.No.83 of list 1 to Schedule VII of our Constitution. The Customs Act, 1962 is the basic Statute, effective from 1.2.1963 which empowers, under Section 12, duties to be levied on goods imported into or exported from India. The categories of items and the rates of duties which are leviable have been specified in two schedules to the Customs Tariff Act, 1975. The first Schedule to the said Act specifies the various categories of import items in a systematic and well considered manner, in accordance with an international scheme of classification of internationally traded goods - termed 'harmonized system of commodity classification'. Different rates of duties are prescribed by the legislature on different commodities/group of commodities mentioned in the first Schedule. The duties are levied both on specific and ad-valorem basis, while there are few cases where at times specific-cum-ad valorem duties are also collected on imported items. Second Schedule to Customs Tariff Act, 1975 incorporates items subject to exports duties and rates thereof.
3. Where ad-valorem duties (i.e., duties with reference to value) are collected, which are the predominant mode of levy, the value of the goods has to be determined for customs duty purposes as per provisions laid down under Section 14 of the Customs Act and the Customs Valuation (determination of prices of imports goods) Rules, 1988 issued thereunder. These provisions are essentially adoption of GATT based valuation system and followed internationally (now termed WTO Valuation Agreement) and were incorporated in the law in 1988. The importer as well as the assessing officer has to carefully study and apply these provisions so that the duties as due after proper valuation as per law get discharged before the goods get out of customs control.
Control and regulatory provisions under Customs Act:
4. To handle growing international traffic properly and effectively and to make it administratively possible that all the cargo/goods/passengers etc., imported/coming into India or exported/going out of the country by sea, air, land or rail routes are checked by the Customs (for ensuring that they are complying with all the related laws before entry/exit into/from India) unrestricted freedom of access into the country or exit out of the country is not permitted. In tune with international practice the entry/exit of carriers/passengers etc., is therefore regulated in this county by law and the Customs Act, 1962 is the basic statute which governs/regulates this entry/exit of different categories of vessels/crafts/goods/passengers etc., into or outside the country.
5. Under the Customs Act, Government is given the powers to appoint Customs ports and airports where alone the imported goods can be brought in for unloading or export goods loaded on ships or air crafts. Similar powers have been given to the Government to notify the places which alone shall be the Land Customs Stations for clearance of imported goods or goods to be exported by land or by inland water. Even the routes of passage by land and inland water into or out of the country can be regulated and these provisions have been made use of specially for regulating traffic for our neighboring countries like Nepal.
6. Suitable powers have also been vested to further approve at a Customs port/airport, specific places where only loading and unloading can take place as also specify the limits of customs area (which essentially is the area of a Customs Port/Airport/Land Customs Station) where the imported goods or the export goods are ordinarily kept before clearance by the Customs authorities.
Role of Custodians:
7. Both in regard to sea cargo as well as air imports, the Customs authorize and appoint "custodians" and all imported goods unloaded in a Customs area remains in their custody & till these are cleared for home consumption, or are warehoused or transshipped as provided in the law. With the growth of containerized traffic the facility of customs clearances at the interior centres in the country has been provided by opening various Inland Container Depots (ICDs), which act like Dry Ports. The goods also move to these internal Dry ports where they remain with the appointed custodian till these are customs cleared. The custodian after taking over the goods from the carrier, arranges its proper storage and safety and allows clearance to the importers only after they fulfill all the customs formalities, pay up requisite duties and other charges/fees and discharge various other obligations before their goods are allowed entry into the country and the customs have given clear permission for clearance out of customs area.
8. Various port trusts and other authorities in the public and private sectors handle the import and export cargo when kept in their custody at various ports, international airports/ICDs. The cargo handling and custody at the international airports is generally entrusted to International airport authority of India. A number of cargo complexes have been set up at most international airports with appropriate storage facilities for imported cargo pending customs clearance. New ICDs are being opened at various industrial centres as a facilitation measure, as per detailed guidelines laid down by the Government, and Customs Cargo clearances - both for imported and export cargo, from interior centres has expanded substantially in recent years.
9. Maximum import and export cargo is handled at different sea ports; increasing part of import cargo from some ports like Nhava Sheva also moves by transhipments to interior ICDs for final clearance by various importers almost at their door steps. In the ports which have vast Dock area and which are appropriately walled, security arrangements are provided to ensure that there is no pilferage/theft or carrying away of the cargo without proper customs clearance. Requisite arrangements of loading and unloading of cargo at different berths in various docks, their movement to different places including container yards/storage godowns etc., are arranged by the port authorities. They deploy a large work force and different & modern material handling equipments for movement of cargo, which now is increasingly becoming containerized. As per the provisions of the Customs Act, the custodians are under obligation to ensure safe custody of the goods till delivery and in fact for unaccounted imported cargo duties are also recoverable by Customs from the custodians.
10. The customs authorities are given appropriate office place and requisite facilities in the dock area as well as international cargo complexes/ICDs etc., to discharge their functions in relation to imports and exports such as supervision on loading/unloading from vessels/crafts etc., supervisions on stuffing or de-stuffing of containers, inspection and suitable examination of the goods which are imported/presented for exportation before customs clearance formalities etc.
Customs law and Obligations of Carrier:
11. To regulate and have a proper and effective control on imports and exports the Customs Act enjoins certain liabilities on the carrier. Thus, they have to bring in the cargo imported into the country for unloading only at notified ports/airports/land custom stations - as mentioned earlier. Further obligation has been cast on the carrier for giving detailed information to customs about goods in their vessels/air crafts which have been brought in at any port/airport for unloading at that particular port/international airport as also that which would be carried further for other ports/airports. Declarations of such cargo have to be made in a prescribed form (which is termed 'Import General Manifest'). This declaration/filing of IGM has to be made prior to the arrival of the vessel or the Aircraft at the customs station.
12. Unless, the aforesaid details and IGM have been furnished in the prescribed form, no unloading of cargo can be undertaken from any vessels/air crafts/vehicles in normal circumstances. After the manifest is duly delivered the unloading takes place under the supervision of the preventive staff of customs. The law prohibits unloading of any goods at a customs station, which is not mentioned in the manifest/import report. Similarly, there are restrictions on loading for export. No vessel/air craft can start loading goods for export unless an intimation has been given to customs and customs have given permission for loading - what is also called 'entry outward of the vessel'. All loading, as mentioned, of cargo on such vessels (and even air crafts) has to be checked and supervised by preventive customs staff and they have to essentially ensure that cargo loaded has discharged the prescribed customs formalities such as payment of duties or cess where leviable, and any other formalities enjoined by the law before the exports are permissible, and authorization for exports has been duly given by the proper appraising staff posted in the docks/cargo complexes/ICDs as a part of customs clearance formalities.
13. The persons in charge of the vessels/air crafts are also required to furnish details of all the goods loaded on a vessel or air craft in a prescribed form which is termed 'Export General Manifest'. This EGM need to be furnished before the vessel/air craft departs.
14. It is worth noting that no conveyance can leave a customs station unless the proper officer of customs has given a written order for port clearance for the vessel. The permission for departure of any vessel is given subject to the satisfaction of the proper officer that all the prescribed formalities have been fulfilled, duties/penalties etc., have been paid or secured. The preventive officers are also authorized to go on board the vessels/air crafts to take suitable declarations, Crew property list etc., and to check whether there are any goods which are not declared for unloading at a particular station in the manifest with an intention to smuggle them without following the prescribed formalities and payment of duties. A thorough examination and checking of the vessels/air crafts is also undertaken - by what is known as rummaging staff generally on selective basis taking due note of the past history of the vessel, the area/country from which the vessels are arriving, the intelligence report etc.
15. The preventive staff of the customs also keeps a very careful vigil in the port areas for checking any illegal activities and develops intelligence to guard against any possible attempts of unauthorized removals from the docks and unloading of unmanifested cargo etc.
Customs Clearance of cargo:
16. Before any goods imported and kept with the custodians as mentioned earlier can be cleared for home consumption in the country immediately - or for warehousing and customs clearances as and when needed etc., the importers have to comply with prescribed customs clearance formalities. Essentially, these involve presentation of certain documents along with a prescribed application (normally termed 'bill of entry', which gives essential particulars in relation to imported goods, its country of origin, particulars of vessel/aircraft etc.) seeking clearance of goods for home consumption/warehousing etc. The importer either himself handles the import clearance documents vis-à-vis Customs or appoints an authorized agent in the Custom House. Major part of Customs clearance work is handled on behalf of importers/exporters by CHAs or Custom Houses Agents - who are trained and experienced in Customs clearance work and are licensed by Customs for such work subject to certain conditions as laid down in CHA Regulations.
17. The clearance documentation presentation and processing is handled in the main Custom Houses where staff trained in assessment matters (termed appraising staff) handles this import clearance work. After a tally has been made with related IGM to ensure that the goods sought for clearance have arrived and declared in the particular manifest of the vessel/air craft mentioned in the Entry (or even where the prior manifest is filed, that they are expected to be landed by particular vessel) the scrutiny of documents - manually or through EDI system is taken up. One of the main functions of the appraising staff in the Custom Houses is careful scrutiny of the entry and the related particulars, and information on various documents with a view to checking the import permissibility in terms of the EXIM policy and any other laws regulating imports/exports. The more important job especially after the liberalization of import regime, is determining classification and duties leviable on the goods on import - (Basic, Additional, Anti-dumping, Safeguards etc.) and value of the goods (where the duties are assessable on value basis), to assess the duty liability, which is required to be paid by the importer. Permissibility of various benefits of duty free clearances under different schemes or applicability of any exemption notification benefits - where claimed is also checked and decided.
18. For determining this duty liability and even permissibility of import it may become necessary to examine the goods in advance. Normally, however, the declarations made are scrutinized without prior examination with reference to documents made available and the other information about the values/classification available with Customs and duties chargeable on the goods are assessed and paid up by the importer or his authorized representative. It is only at the time of clearance from the custody of the port trusts/international airport authority or other custodians that the examination of the goods on percentage basis is carried out. For expediting assessment and clearance formalities, separate staff for checking assessment related work is posted in the custom houses as well as in the premises where the goods are stored pending customs clearance; the later said officers undertake checking of nature of goods, valuation and other part of declaration, or draw samples as may be ordered by the scrutinizing officers of the Custom House/Cargo Complexes/ICDs.
19. In majority of the cases the assessment is completed and duties also paid without prior examination. If no discrepancies in relation to the nature of goods, quantity, value etc., are observed at the time of examination of the cargo by the appraising officers in the dock/cargo complex etc., out of Customs control orders are issued, and thereafter goods can be cleared after discharging any other fees/charges etc., of the custodians.
20. Where prior examination, at times becomes necessary before assessment is finalized or permissibility of import determined, goods are got examined first after filing of Bill of entry and other documents. Based upon the report of the examining staff, duties etc., are assessed and if there is no prohibition etc., on payment of duty the goods are taken clearance from the custodian without the need for further examination.
21. Where disputes arise in the matter of classification/valuation or any violations of any laid down provisions of law are observed, where the goods cannot be allowed clearance finally without further investigations and following adjudication proceedings - where necessary, the law and instructions provide for even provisional clearances subject to suitable bond/security. Only where the goods are of prohibited nature or in certain other exceptional cases, where release on provisional basis is not considered advisable, the final decision may be taken after results of enquiries etc. are known & where necessary adjudication proceedings completed.
22. Similar customs clearance formalities for goods meant for export have to be fulfilled by presenting what are termed as 'shipping bills' and other related documents to the export wing of the custom houses or EDI service Centres. The appraising staff in the Custom House/Air Cargo Complex checks the declarations to assess the duties/cess if leviable, propriety of export incentives where claimed under different schemes like duty drawback or duty free exemption schemes etc. Appropriate orders for examination before shipments are allowed are given on the Shipping Bill. The staff in the docks/cargo complexes/ICDs examines the goods meant for export on percentage basis, and allow shipment if there are no discrepancies/ mis-declarations etc., and no prohibitions/violations come to light. Appropriate penal action as per law is initiated where any fraudulent practices get detected during initial stage of scrutiny or at the time of examination etc.
23. Thus, aforesaid provisions in the law and the various functions assigned to the customs are essentially provided to ensure that all cargo which is brought into the country passes through authorized points, is reported to customs and the concerned importers fulfill the prescribed legal and procedural requirements laid down under Customs Act and allied laws, paying up the duties leviable if any before the goods enter into the country. These provisions similarly help customs to regulate the outflow of the goods out of the country and enable them to subject the goods to proper checks before allowing final exit out of the country by sea/air/land/rail routes. They also help detect any attempts of smuggling or commercial frauds by unscrupulous parties.
Smuggling & Other Violations and Penal Provisions:
24. Unscrupulous parties do attempt to evade the duties leviable and bypass various prohibitions/restrictions in relation to imports by attempting to bring the goods into the country from places other than the notified ports/airports/Land Custom Stations without reporting or presenting the goods to customs. Similar attempts are made to take out goods out of the country unauthorizedly. This is essentially what is termed 'smuggling' and customs officers have very important role to play in ensuring that they detect any such attempts of smuggling into or out of the country and take appropriate action both against the goods as well as against the persons involved in smuggling or violation of various restrictions/prohibitions for personal gains at the cost of exchequer unmindful of various other harmful effects which the prohibited and sensitive goods may have, if these are allowed entry into the country. Strict penalties in relation to the goods/persons - involving seizure/absolute confiscation of the prohibited goods, fines and penalties on the persons involved in the offence as well as those abetting the offence are provided. The law also empowers Customs for carrying out searches, arrests and prosecution of persons involved in smuggling and serious commercial frauds and evasion of duties or misuse of export incentives by fraudulent practices (misdeclaration of nature, and value of the goods or suppression of quantities etc.)
25. The customs law provides deterrent penal provisions for all such violations but due processes of law have to be followed before any action is taken against the offending goods or persons/conveyance etc. involved. The customs officers have to act as quasi-judicial authorities and the liabilities for duty evaded or sought to be evaded, fines and penalties etc., are adjudged by adjudication action wherein the persons concerned are duly given notice of the contemplated action against the goods/persons/conveyance etc. including the gist of the charges and their basis, and they are provided opportunity for representation as well as personal hearing. The adjudication powers are vested in the customs officers of different specified ranks.
26. In grave offence cases prosecution action with imprisonment upto 7 years is also permissible under the Customs Act, but this action is to be taken following the usual criminal proceedings in a court of law, after prosecution sanction has been given by the competent Customs officer.
27. The parties aggrieved with the departmental adjudication action are also given the right to appeal - at the departmental higher level Commissioner (Appeal) as well as at independent tribunal level. On questions of law, the orders of tribunal could also be considered for reference to the High Court and certain categories of decisions involving matters relating to classification or valuation can be appealed even before the Supreme Court.
28. Apart from the aforesaid functions in relation to control/regulation/ clearance of import/export of goods international passenger processing is another important area of work handled by the Indian customs authorities. All incoming passengers after immigration clearance have to pass through Customs who have the onerous duty to ensure that there is maximum facilitation and quick passenger clearance, but at the same time the passengers do not try to smuggle goods into the country which are sensitive and otherwise prohibited/restricted or where substantial duties may be involved which are sought to be evaded by non-declaration/mis-declaration to Customs. Similarly, though duties are not very relevant for outgoing passengers, Customs have to ensure that outgoing passengers do not smuggle out foreign currency, antiques or other wildlife & prohibited items or narcotics drugs or psychotropic substances - and this later part, i.e., checking of drug smuggling is becoming of considerable importance in recent years. The customs have also to ensure enforcement of various other allied laws before any goods carried by the passengers on person, in hand bag or accompanied baggage enter into the country or get out of the country.
Import/Export by Post/Courier:
29. Another important role performed by Customs, though not very visible, is necessary coordination with Postal authorities and giving customs clearances after appropriate checking on selective basis of various goods coming by post parcels, etc. They have to ensure that these postal mail/packets/parcels enter into the country following the provisions of the Customs Act. The goods brought by parcels unless these are within permissible free gift limits or free sample limits have to be assessed to duties by customs & indicated to postal authorities. The duties are collected before the postal authorities deliver the goods to the addressees. Lastly, it may also be mentioned that small item imports/exports through couriers is fast catching up in this country and customs have made appropriate provisions by Regulations for ensuring that goods brought in by courier get customs cleared quickly - discharging duties where leviable on import before these are forwarded for delivery to the consignees. The regulations framed are reviewed to meet the changing needs of trade & industry/general public.
30. These are some of the basic areas of work, which are handled by the Indian Customs. As could be seen it covers substantial areas of activities affecting trade and industry and general public. Customs officials come in contact with international passengers and general public, importers and exporters, traders and manufacturers, the carriers, the port and airport authorities, postal authorities and various other Government/semi-Government agencies, Banks etc. The importers and exporters have to realize that various agencies get involved in any customs clearance work in relation to cargo. Even international passenger processing and faster clearances depend upon various agencies working at Air Ports. Indian Customs authorities are very conscious of the various onerous tasks assigned to it and is attempting, consciously in recent years, to rationalize and modernize its Customs procedures for customs clearance of cargo/passenger processing etc. India is an active member of the World Customs Organisation and has adopted various international Customs Conventions and procedures; the Harmonized Classification System, the GATT based Valuation system in relation to valuation etc. It is moving fast in direction of total automation of the imports and exports clearance work.
The various allied acts that are implemented by the Custom officers includes:
1. The Customs Tariff Act, 1975
2. The Central Board of Revenue Act, 1962
3. Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act 1992
4. The Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999
5. The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (as amended by the amendment Act, of 1988)
6. The Prevention of illicit traffic in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic substances Act, 1988
7. The Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958
8. The Territorial Waters (Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic Zones ) Act, 1976
9. The Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1931
10. The Agricultural Produce (CESS) Act, 1940
11. The Agricultural Produce (Marketing & Grading), Act, 1937
12. Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904
13. The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1904The Arms Act, 1959
14. The Coal Mines (Conservation & Development) Act, 1974
15. The Coast Guard Act, 1978
16. The Coasting Vessels Act, 1838
17. The Coir Industries Act, 1953
18. The Copy Right Act, 1953
19. The Court Fees Act, 1970
20. The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
21. The Destructive Insects and Pests Act, 1914
22. The Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940
23. The Drug and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954
24. The Export (Quality Control & Inspection) Act, 1963
25. The Income Tax Act, 1961
26. The Indian Coffee Act, 1942
27. The Indian Cotton Cess Act, 1923
28. The Indian Explosives Act, 1884 and the Rules made thereunder
29. The Indian Light House Act, 1927
30. The Indian Penal Code, 1860
31. The Indian Merchant Shipping Act, 1958
32. The Indiana Ports Act, 1908
33. The Indian Post Office Act, 1898
34. The Iron One Mines and Manganese Ore Mines and Chrome Ore Mines Labour Welfare Cess Act, 1976
35. The Livestock Importation Act, 1968
36. The Major Port Trusts Act, 1963
37. The Mineral Products (Additional Duties of Excise & Customs) Act, 1951
38. Petroleum Act, 1933
39. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
40. The Procedure Cess Act, 1966
41. The Rubber Act, 1947
42. The Smuggling and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1975
43. The Stamps Act, 1899
44. The Tea Act, 1953
45. The Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act6, 1973
(ii) POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES.
Customs in this country are committed in its Citizen Charter, to provide to trade & industry time bound and speedy cargo clearance facility, quick redressal of grievance, and inculcating in its officers' sense of service with stress on
(i) integrity and judiciousness
(ii) courtesy and understanding
(iii) objectivity and transparency
(iv) promptness and efficiency
Steps are afoot to further professionalize Customs to be able to render efficient and prompt service to the clients almost at par with those rendered by other customs services in developed countries.
The Powers of officers of customs have been elaborated in Section 5 of the Customs Act, 1962 and are laid as under -
(1) Subject to such conditions and limitations as the Board may impose, an officer of customs may exercise the powers and discharge the duties conferred or imposed on him under this Act.
(2) An officer of customs may exercise the powers and discharge the duties conferred or imposed under this Act on any other officer of customs who is subordinate to him.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, a Commissioner (Appeals) shall not exercise the powers and discharge the duties conferred or imposed on an officer of customs other than those specified in Chapter XV and section 108.
(iii) THE PROCEDURE FOLLOWED IN THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS INCLUDING CHANNELS OF SUPERVISION AND ACCOUNTABILITY.
Decision making in the organization is based on decentralization that is to say that there is a definite delegation of authority and responsibility to different levels of the organization. Such delegation is laid out either in the Customs Act, 1962 or the Rules made there under or vide various circulars issued by the department from time to time.
Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) deals with policy formulation and implementation on all matters relating to Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax including the prevention of smuggling. The CBEC is headed by a Chairman and has 5 members in addition to the Chairman. In the performance of its administrative and executive functions, the CBEC is assisted by Chief Commissioners and Director Generals. The Commissioners working under the Chief Commissioner's supervision discharge executive functions.
Since some decisions are more important than others, whether in their immediate impact or long term significance, appropriate energy, time and resources are spent on the same at appropriate levels. The decision-making at is different at the different levels:
a. Strategic. Strategic decisions are the highest level. Here a decision concerns general direction, long term goals, philosophies and values. These decisions are the least structured and most imaginative. Such decisions are taken at the level of the CBEC with the assistance of the staff posted in the CBEC namely the Joint Secretaries, Directors, Deputy Secretaries, Under Secretaries etc. The Chief Commissioners incharge of the various zones are also involved in decision making at this level.
b. Tactical. Tactical decisions support strategic decisions. They tend to be medium range, medium significance, with moderate consequences. Such decisions are taken at the level of Commissioners and Addl./Joint Commissioners posted in the field formations.
c. Operational. These are every day decisions, used to support tactical decisions. These are well structured and are normally in the form of implementation of the policies, rules and regulations. Their impact is immediate, short term and short range. Operational decisions at many places are pre-programmed into the ICES (Indian Customs EDI System). Such decisions are taken at the level of Deputy/ Assistant Commissioners, Appraisers, Superintendents and Inspectors.
The basic procedure for Imports and Exports at the field level and decision making
The import and export declarations can be lodged by using service centres attached to the customs houses or through the Customs portal called "ICEGATE". Simultaneously the airlines and the shipping lines also have the facility to submit import and export manifests likewise. This makes it possible for the online processing of the declaration.
The appraising officers of Customs assess the documents on-line and their approval and duty related information are communicated electronically to the CHA/importer/exporter. Importer or his representative is not required to interfere with the custom officer as the system provides for clarification of doubts by electronic exchange of queries and replies between Customs and trade. The only interface between Customs and the import trade us at the time of collection of goods. A concept of "Green Channel" has been introduced, which system provides for waiver of examination by Customs on the basis of the 'importers' profile. The system also provides for 'system appraisal' on select goods where the declaration of the importer is accepted and the assessment is complete without the intervention of the Custom officer.
The export system has been highly simplified and allows the goods to be brought for export immediately after filing the export documents or the shipping bill. About 85-90% of the export consignments are given 'let export' order within 4 hours of the bringing in of the consignment.
The complete decision-making is planned in the manner that there is no delay in clearance of the goods, the passengers, the parcels etc. Well-laid guidelines and instructions are in place to ensure the same.
Decisions are not made only as reactions to external stimuli but are guided by a proactive approach starting from top downwards. Instead of, "Management by firefighting" a conscious and directed series of choices are made based on the various circulars and instructions as also the mission statement issued by the CBEC. In the process effort is to act as a facilitator more than a regulator.
The complete decision making and the actions are comparable against the past performances and the set targets so that the organization can discover whether or not the organization is heading towards the desired goals.
(iv) NORMS SET OUT BY THE ORGANISATION FOR DISCHARGE OF ITS FUNCTIONS
The mission of the organization is to achieve excellence in the formulation and implementation of Customs and Excise initiatives aimed at:
To achieve its mission, CBEC has laid that focus shall be on:
(v) The Rules, Regulations, Instructions, Manuals and Records held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging of functions -
Available on CBEC Website i.e. http://www.cbec.gov.in/
(vi) A statement of the categories of the documents that are held by it or under its control
The following documents are relevant to Customs
(i) Commercial Invoice
(ii) Airway Bill / Bill of Lading
(iii) Packing Lists.
(i) Shipping Bill
(ii) Commercial Invoice
(iii) Packing List
The Airlines/carriers are also supposed to file the following documents
(i) Import General Manifest (IGM)
(ii) Export General Manifest (EGM)
(iii) Passenger Manifest
(iv) Courier Import manifest
(v) Boat note
(vi) List of private property in the possession of the captain and crew
(i) Bill of coastal goods
(ii) Application for Import and for warehousing of stores for aircraft
(iii) Application for re-export of stores imported and warehoused for aircraft
(iv) Form for claim of drawback
(v) Application for refund of duty/interest
(vi) Form of certificate to be given in respect of goods, other than motor vehicles, imported by sea, air or land for the official use of diplomatic missions, consular posts and trade representations
(vii) Particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with or representation by the Members of the Public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof.
In order to meet the department's objectives of:
(viii) A statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public.
Various committees have been constituted under the chairmanship of the concerned Chief Commissioners/Commissioners with members from the trade, warehouse agents, airlines, handling agents like CONCOR, importers and exporters associations, custodians service providers like CMC Ltd. and NIC etc.. The various committees presently in operation are -
a. Watchdog Committee
b. Regional Advisory Committee
c. Public Grievance Committee
d. Permanent trade facilitation Committee
e. Airport facilitation committee
The Citizen's Charter of the Department envisions that the Customs & Central Excise officers shall carry out their assigned tasks with integrity and judiciousness; courtesy and understanding; objectivity and transparency; promptness and efficiency. The officers are also committed to providing every possible assistance to the public and trade in implementation of the Customs policies and procedures. The Customs department has also initiated a number of measures to ensure that complaint(s)/grievance(s) are minimized and where received these are attended to promptly.
2. In order to take care of the grievance(s)/complaint(s) the department has put in place a grievance redressal mechanism in the field formations of Customs. The grievance redressal machinery can broadly be categorized into two, viz:
Grievance Redressal System related to Cargo clearance;
I) Grievance Redressal System related to Cargo clearance:
3. The clearance of cargo at ports, air cargo complexes, ICDs and CFSs involves interaction of the trade with the officials of the Customs department. To redress the grievance of the public in so far as it relates to clearance of imported goods/export cargo a number of steps have been taken. The main stress has been to review and change procedures and on cutting down contact with the officers to the extent possible, and introducing computerization in Customs clearances to cut down delays at various level which is the main cause of corrupt practice. Some of the major policy initiative & procedural simplification measures in Customs include simplified procedure for movement of export goods from factories/EOUs /EPZs; Reduced percentage of examination of export goods; Fast Track Clearance Scheme; simplification in procedures relating to coastal shipping; transshipment of imported/export goods by trucks etc. The specific measures for facilitation, reducing problem & handling complaints/grievances of trade and industry are mentioned below:
Management Information System (MIS)
4. The majority of the problem faced by the importers, exporters, Custom House Agents or their representative is in respect of information regarding clearance of their consignments. With the introduction of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) for the clearance of consignments at all major Custom houses it is now possible for the supervisory level /senior officers of Customs to monitor the delay in clearance at any stage. A report is generated every evening of all Bills of entry, Shipping Bills, DBK claim that are pending in the EDI system along with the date of receipt and the level at which the document is pending.
5. The System Manager looks after all EDI related problems. The System Manager holds regular meetings with the Remote EDI (RES) users, CHAs representatives, NIC, CMC and other agencies that support the EDI system.
6. In all major Custom Houses, a "Tele Enquiry System" has also been introduced in recent months. Any exporter, importer or his agent can dial the assigned numbers and ascertain the status of his bills of entry/shipping bills or DBK claim. The system provides a voice response and can also be used on fax mode.
Accessibility of Senior Officers
7. The Chief Commissioner/Commissioners earmark time on all working days during which any person having any grievances relating to Customs is free to meet the officer without any prior appointment. A number of Commissioners allow the meeting even outside earmarked hours; the matter is brought to notice are looked into for prompt remedial measures.
Public Grievance officer:
8. Each Commissioner has designated a Public Grievance Officer. Public Notices have been issued giving the names and telephone numbers of these officers so that any person from the trade and public may contact them if he has a grievance that is not being redressed by the dealing officer or his supervisor.
9. Public notices are also issued in most Custom Houses periodically explaining the Public grievance redressal machinery available for quick redressal of grievances from the Trade and Industry including grievances relating to delay or unreasonable attitude of the part of any Customs Officer(s).
Public Grievance Committee
10. A Public Grievance Committee exists at the level of the Commissioner in each Commissionerate of Customs. The committee consists of representatives of trade and industry, Custom House Agents, representatives of Custodians, such as AAI, CONCOR, Banks, Export Promotion Agencies, such as the Garments Exporters Association, Handicraft Export Association, and Chambers of Commerce etc.
11. The committee meets once in a month and grievances relating to Customs functioning are taken note of for taking prompt remedial action- either during the meeting or after further examination. The minutes of the meeting are circulated to all concerned. In case grievances relate to other agencies such as the Wild Life, NIC or CMC their representatives are also invited for these meetings.
Watch Dog Committee:
12. In addition to the above a watchdog committee has also been constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Commissioner. This committee meets once in two months. Leading association of trade and industry and other agencies that interact with Customs have been included in the committee along with the senior officers of Customs to ensure meaningful dialogue. This Committee takes note of various procedural delays or problems in general being faced in Customs clearance on export/import or grant of various incentives. The feedback from trade and industry is used for necessary review of procedures & taking measures to remove the difficulties of importers/exporters.
Grievance Redressal related to Passenger clearance :
13. A number of measures have been taken to ensure that the international passengers do not face any difficulty in Customs clearance at the international airports.
Passenger Facilitation/grievance redressal mechanism:
14. More than 90% of the passengers walk through the green channel if they have nothing to declare. The officers of Customs have been sensitized to show due courtesy and exemplary conduct especially towards the elderly, illiterate passengers. However, in case the passenger still has a grievance there are a number of illuminated boards installed by Customs in the arrival/departure halls and in the immigration area suggesting that they may approach the PRO (Customs) for help.
15. Senior officers of the rank of Assistant Commissioner/Deputy Commissioner of Customs are available round the clock and the passenger can directly approach them for redressal of their grievances.
16. It has also been displayed that for any vigilance angle grievance the passenger can lodge the complaint with the Commissioner of Customs or the CVC.
Airport Facilitation Committee
17. The Airport Facilitation Committee has also been constituted to look into the complaints of the passengers arriving at the airport. The committee meets once in a month and has members from various agencies working at the airport like IAAI, Customs, Immigration, and Police etc.
(ix) Directory of its offices and employees
This information has been notified by each of the formations separately.
(x) Monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations
This information has been notified by each of the formations separately.
(xi) Budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made
This information has been notified by each of the formations separately.
(xii) The manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made.
(xiii) Particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorization granted by it
In specific cases of imports, Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue issues ad-hoc exemption order under Section 25(2) of Customs Act, 1962.".
(xiv) Details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form
(a) Comprehensive information on Customs, laws and procedures maintained at the http://www.cbec.gov.in web site.
(b) Information on transacting business electronically with Customs maintained at http://www.icegate.gov.in web site.
(c) Repository of digital certificate subscribers maintained at the iCert facility. This information is required to be kept secret by Certifying authorities operating under the IT Act, 2000 and cannot be disclosed to members of the public.
(d) Directorate of Data Management is maintaining commodity-wise revenue of Customs in electronic form."
(xv) The particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use.
At present, the following avenues are available for obtaining information :
(a) Help Centres : One Help Centre is maintained for the help of small assesses in each Commissionerate at a location which is in the vicinity of industry and in private premises.
(b) Information and Facilitation Counter is available at the Commissionerate Headquarters.
(c) CBEC Website (http://www.cbec.gov.in )
Though small libraries are generally maintained in each Commissionerate they are presently being used only by the Commissionerate officers and not open for public.
(xvi) The names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information officers
The list is provided on the link : www.cbec.gov.in/info-act/aa-cpio/aa-cpio-idx
(xvii) Such other information as may be prescribed -