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Govt introduces bill to amend Customs Act
August, 09th 2011

Government today introduced a Bill in Lok Sabha to amend customs law with a view to facilitate recovery of taxes worth thousands of crore of rupees.     

The Bill will validate the show cause notices issued by Customs officers, which were rendered invalid by the Supreme Court as they were not issued by proper officers, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said while introducing the Bill.     

The introduction of bill was necessitated as a large number of show cause notices for demand of duty were held invalid by the Supreme Court on the ground that they were not issued by 'proper officers', said the statement of objects and reasons of the bill.     

Earlier, the Union Cabinet had cleared the proposal to amend the Customs Act, 1962, to get specified customs officers authorised for assessment of import duty.     

The bill seeks recognition to certain customs officials from retrospective effect. On July 6, the Government had specified officers as 'proper officers' for issuing show cause notices for demand of customs duty.     

"Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in judgement, decree or order of any court of law...all persons appointed as officers of customs...before July 6, 2011 shall be deemed to have and always had the power of assessment... and have been proper officers for the purpose (to issue show cause notice)," the bill tabled in the House said.     

As a consequence of the amendment bill, government would be able to recover customs duty worth several thousands of crore.     

Officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have alone issued notices involving customs duty to the tune of over Rs 7,500 crore.     

Passage of the bill would also ensure that tax evaders will not get benefited at the expense of exchequer on a mere technical ground.     

The proposed amendment would safeguard government revenue involved in the show cause notices issued by different tax authorities, including Commissionerates of Customs, DRI, Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence and Central Excise Commissionerates.

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