Cigarette smuggling: Customs denies allegations against CGST

High Court had ordered CBI probe into matter on October 13

Nitin Jain

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 16

In a new twist to the multi-crore cigarette smuggling racket busted by the Central Goods and Service Tax (CGST) Commissionerate, Ludhiana, the Customs Commissionerate here has denied the allegations levelled against CGST Commissionerate officials before the court.

Customs seeks source of allegations

  In a letter to its counsel, the Customs Commissionerate, Ludhiana, through its Deputy Commissioner has sought to know the source of such allegations levelled on behalf of the Customs Department before the High Court.

The development assumes significance as taking note of the “tardy, casual and irresponsible attitude” of the Customs and the CGST Departments, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had on October 13 ordered a CBI probe into the matter.

In a letter to its counsel, a copy of which is with The Tribune, the Customs Commissionerate, Ludhiana, through its Deputy Commissioner has sought to know the source

of such allegations levelled on behalf of the Customs Department before the court.

“Upon perusal of the High Court order, it is seen that the court has observed that as per stand of the Customs Department, there is a collusion of the official of the CGST Department with the petitioner and the other accused and in that process, the CGST Department is posing the petitioner as a secret informer/source,” noted the Customs Deputy Commissioner.

The letter further noted that whereas no such information was available with their office to support such a contention and therefore, it was never part of their replies/ affidavits in the case. “Even no verbal instruction or information was shared for recording such statement on behalf of the Customs,” the Customs Commissionerate stated.

The communication added: “Since you are representing the Customs Department alone in the present case along with connected matters, kindly let us know the source of such information, if any, with you for our records.”

The High Court had ordered a CBI probe in the matter on a second petition by Sunil Dutt against the Department of Customs, Customs Commissionerate, Ludhiana, and another respondent for anticipatory bail in a complaint case for offences under the Customs Act.

The petitioner, in his initial petition, had stated that action was initiated against erring customs officers on his complaint after he came to know that 39.6 lakh cigarettes of four different brands were imported, instead of aluminium scrap, without paying customs duty.

In his second plea, one of the new grounds taken was that the petitioner was a registered “informer” of the CGST Commissionerate and had helped in unearthing “many scams” and GST evasion, for which he had been granted an award.

It was in April that the anti-evasion wing of the CGST Commissionerate, Ludhiana, slapped a penalty of Rs 4.41 crore on a firm caught evading the tax during the transportation of goods. “As per e-way bill carried by the vehicle driver, the goods transported were declared as aluminum scrap (HSN 76020010) but when the container seal was broken and goods were examined by enforcement staff, it was found that the container was carrying 39.6 lakh cigarettes (100 mm each) of four brands, four alloy wheels and 10,030 kg of scrap (prima facie iron),” the CGST Commissionerate had claimed.

Tribune Shorts


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