Smuggling of gold is done mostly due to high purity and lesser price of gold imported from Dubai and Bangkok as compared to Indian market
By A.S.Ranga, Commissioner of Customs, Ludhiana The Chandigarh International Airport, Ltd (CHIAL),Mohali is operative since September 15, 2016. Presently, thirteen international flights are operating per week at the Airport toBangkok, Dubai...
By A.S.Ranga, Commissioner of Customs, Ludhiana
The Chandigarh International Airport, Ltd (CHIAL),Mohali is operative since September 15, 2016. Presently, thirteen international flights are operating per week at the Airport toBangkok, Dubai &Sharjah. On an average,there is arrival of 1560 passengers and departure of 1700 passengers at this Airport per week.
As per Customs Baggage Rules, 2016, a passenger residing abroad for more than one (01) year, on return to India, shall be allowed clearance free of duty in his bona-fide baggage of jewelry upto a weight of twenty grams with a value cap of fifty thousand rupees if brought by a gentleman passenger or forty grams with a value cap of one lakhrupees if brought by a lady passenger. This reveals that gold other than in the shape of permissible jewelry and ornaments is not permitted to be brought as per allowed bona-fide baggage. Further, a passenger of Indian origin or a passenger holding a valid passport, issued under the Passport Act, 1967, who is coming to India after a period of not less than six months of stay abroad, is allowed to import gold not exceeding one kilogram and quantity of silver not exceeding 10 kilogram under serial number 356 & 357 of the Notification no. 50/2017 –Customsdated 30.06.17 respectively on payment of 10% Customs duty under Customs Tariff Act. 1975 and applicable IGST duty under IGST Act, 2017 as per applicable tariff value.
However, few passengers coming from abroad have been intercepted at (CHIAL) and in recent past40 cases of gold seizure weighing 42.60Kgs. valued at Rs. 1213.13 Lakh involving Customs duty of Rs.450.41 Lakh, have been booked at the Airport till date.This also includes one unclaimed case detected where the gold biscuits were found in the washroom of the aircraft and no one claimed these biscuits.All the passengers from whom the gold was seized did not declare the gold possession in their declaration at the time ofCustoms clearance to avoid the payment of applicable customs duty. These cases were detected by the Customs staff during rummaging of the aircrafts, X-Ray scanning of the passengers and their baggage / hand bags, on the basis of torn gold purchase bills by the passengers found in the aircraft and by observing suspicious body language and expressions of the incoming passengers. Illegally smuggled gold is seized under Section 110 of the Customs Act, 1962 after preliminary examination / interrogation of the concerned passengers. In cases where value of seized goods is above twenty lakh, the concerned passengers are arrested under Section 104 of the Customs Act, 1962. This is a bailable offence and thus, bail is granted to the arrested person(s) by the competent authority after fulfilling the necessary requirements by the person to be granted bail.After investigation, show cause notices are issued to the alleged offenders and the same are adjudicated by the competent authorities of the Customs. Out of total 40 cases, investigation in 17 cases has been completed and 23 cases are under the process of investigation. Fifteen persons were arrested under Section 104 of the Customs Act, 1962 after seizure of gold consignments from them for the contravention of the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962 and released on bail. The information of the seized goldis being shared with Income Tax authorities for further investigation onoverseas / domestic funding of the smuggled gold.
Various modus operandi found adopted by the passengers for the smuggling of gold are - concealing of gold biscuits or items of gold in their rectum/baggage/suitcase/handbags/iron press/wallet/ hiddenin parts of vacuum cleaner/ underneath the patawa of the shoes worn by the passenger /as nickel coated articles of gold as washers, gold ringlets /gold jewelry concealed under clothes as tiched buttons& nickel coated gold beads / gold concealed in the hollow cylindrical pipe of seat / gold was concealed in supporting pipes the shape of beading of suitcase / gold foil concealed underneath the tiffin box / Gold buckle, chain &Kada worn by the passenger concealed under the worn clothings / gold tied with waist in cloth bag (potly).Besides, modus operandi adopted in some cases is that international passengers are taking domestic connected flights to CHIAL and leaving the gold underneath their seats to be taken by other subsequent passengers.
The investigations conducted in these cases have revealed that smuggling of gold is done mostly due to high purity and lesser price of gold imported from Dubai and Bangkok as compared to Indian market.There is a price difference of Rs. 3-4 lakhs per kg. Gold smugglers or couriers of “smuggling gang” disguise themselves as genuine passengers to escape customs officials and payment of customs duties. It is only due to high alert and vigilance of the Customs officials at the CHIAL that these cases are detected.
Installation of Advance Passenger Information System(APIS) at Airport is under process, which will help in giving information of the profile of the passengers involved in smuggling of gold.