Instruction No. 25/2016
F. No. 394/66/2016-Cus (AS)
Government of India
Ministry of Finance
Department of Revenue
Anti Smuggling Unit (CBEC)

Room No. 512, 5th Floor, Hudco Vishala Building,
R. K. Puram, New Delhi, dated 23.08.2016

To
All Principal Chief Commissioners / Chief Commissioners of Customs,
All Principal Chief Commissioners / Chief Commissioners of Customs (Preventive),
All Principal Chief Commissioners / Chief Commissioner of Customs & Central Excise,
All Director Generals of CBEC

Sub:- Boarding and Rummaging of vessels, aircrafts and vehicles – reg.

Madam/Sir,

References have been received in the Board alleging lackadaisical approach of Customs officers in rummaging and examination of vessels which come to berth at various Indian ports. The references also allege illegal gratification in the form of gifts and cash.

2. Attention is invited to the detailed guidelines prescribed in Customs Preventive Manual, 1987 regarding boarding and rummaging of vessels. Over the years many changes have taken place in the sphere of Customs administration in the background of changed economic scenario and increasing volume of trade. There has been a manifold increase in the number and movement of vessels and aircrafts. This has been accompanied by a more transparent and accountable work environment based on information technology which aims to better channelize scarce resources through risk management and at the same time endeavours to reduce transaction costs and promotes ease of doing business.

3. Needless to say that rummaging of vessels berthing at the ports/aircrafts landing at airports/vehicles crossing land customs stations is an effective method to prevent any attempt to smuggle prohibited and restricted goods into the country and hence supervisory officers need to pay adequate attention to this important preventive function. With an enhanced fleet of vessels and aircrafts to be dealt with limited human resources, rummaging exercises will prove to be effective when they are carried on sound risk management principles. While the prevailing rummaging practices need not be diluted, a full detailed rummage should be carried out on vessels/aircrafts/vehicles where risk analysis, reliable information etc. suggests the necessity for such. This will also help in reducing harassment, alleged complaints and enhance ease of doing business.

4. Rummaging parameters may be decided by the jurisdictional Principal Commissioner / Commissioner with utmost confidentiality. Some of the probable parameters could be: ships/aircrafts arriving from sensitive ports/airports having higher risk profiles; composition of crew; frequency of visit of ship; random selection; passenger/cargo vessel; etc. While deciding these, the Principal Commissioner / Commissioner shall keep in mind the risk elements relating to smuggling of contraband goods, perceived threat to national economy and security and recent experiences of rummaging and their outcome. These parameters shall be reviewed once in every quarter based on fresh inputs received from rummaging exercises, intelligence, trends in smuggling etc. However, if specific intelligence / information is received regarding smuggling etc., detailed rummaging shall be carried out without fail.

5. Further, to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability in the boarding and rummaging exercises, and to streamline the procedures, attention is invited to Public Notice No. 03/2016 and Standing Order No. 01/2016 both dated 04.07.2016 (copies enclosed) issued by the Office of the Principal Commissioner of Customs, Chennai III Commissionerate. The aforesaid Public Notice and Standing Order also address the issue of illegal gratification. The jurisdictional Principal Commissioners / Commissioners of other Customs locations may issue similar Public Notices and Standing Orders.

6. Though the new initiatives, as indicated above, are required to be undertaken at each Customs location, the guidelines prescribed in the Customs Preventive Manual, 1987 regarding rummaging which interalia include the nature of goods, the areas to be searched, precautions for safeguarding the officers and the vessels/aircrafts/vehicles, official supervision, professional approach to minimise annoyance and loss, etc. will continue to be in force.

7. A proforma rummaging report is given in Annexure-I. The same may be used for rummaging exercise. The rummaging report shall be signed by the Superintendent in charge of rummaging after each rummaging exercise and counter signed by the Deputy/Assistant Commissioner in charge of rummaging. Rummaging sections shall also maintain the rummaging register as given in Annexure-II.

8. The above instructions shall be brought to the notice of the officers under your jurisdictions with a direction to follow these scrupulously. Any instance of deviation shall be viewed seriously.

9. Difficulties faced in implementation of these instructions, if any, should be brought to the notice of the Board.

Yours faithfully,

(Rohit Anand )

Under Secretary to Govt. of India

Encl: As above

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