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1. Introduction:

1.1 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 committed to providing every possible assistance to the public and trade in implementation of the Customs policies and procedures. The Department has also taken numerous other measures to ensure that complaint(s)/grievance(s) are minimized and where received, these are attended to promptly. These measures include a grievance redressal mechanism for both cargo clearance and passenger clearance in the field formations of Customs.

2. Grievance redressal related to cargo clearance:

2.1 The clearance of cargo at ports, air cargo complexes, ICDs and CFSs involves interaction of the trade with the Customs officials, which often results in complaints of harassment, corruption, and delays. Thus, to redress these grievances the focus has been to simplify procedures, enhance transparency, sensitize the Departmental officers to their responsibilities, and expand use of EDI in Customs clearance procedures. Some specific measures for facilitation and handling complaints/grievances of trade and industry are as follows:

(a) ICEGATE Advanced Helpdesk: Advanced Helpdesk is an online service provided to ICEGATE users to resolve their technical problems and queries so that there should not be any difficulty in using ICEGATE services. End users’ calls are handled with special care by the intervention of Helpdesk analysts, Service Area Analysts, Assignees, Shift managers, senior Custom officers so that the end users get quick solutions of their problems and no down time occurs and high service standards are maintained.

(b) Management Information System (MIS): A major area of concern for the importers, exporters, Customs Brokers is to get information regarding clearance of their consignments, which has been significantly resolved with the introduction of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) at all major Custom Houses. In all major Custom Houses, a “Tele Enquiry System” allows exporters, importers etc. to dial the assigned numbers and ascertain the status of the Bills of Entry/Shipping Bills or Drawback claim. This system can also be used on fax mode. Further, supervisory officers of Customs can monitor the delays in clearance at any stage. The system also generates a daily report of all pending Bills of Entry, Shipping Bills, Drawback claims along with the date of receipt and the level at which the document is pending. For this purpose the System Manager looks after all EDI related problems and holds regular meetings with the Remote EDI (RES) users, Customs Brokers representatives, NIC, CMC and other agencies that support the EDI system.

(c) Accessibility of Senior Officers: The Chief Commissioner/Commissioners of Customs earmark time on all working days during which any person having any grievances is free to meet the officer without prior appointment. These meetings ensure timely and prompt remedial measures.

(d) Public Grievance Officer (PGO): Each Commissionerate has a designated PGO and Public Notices have been issued giving the names and telephone numbers of these officers. These PGO may be approached by the trade and public if their grievance is not being redressed by the dealing officer or his supervisor.

(e) Public Grievance Committee (PGC): A PGC is constituted in each Customs Commissionerate, consisting 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. The PGC meets once in a month to address grievances relating to Customs functioning. In case grievances relate to other agencies such as the Wildlife, NIC or CMC, their representatives are also invited for these meetings.

(f) Watch Dog Committee: A Watchdog Committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Commissioner of Customs, which meets once in two months. Leading association of trade and industry and other agencies that interact with Customs are included in this 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 of export/import cargo or grant of various incentives. Feedback from trade and industry is used for necessary review of procedures and taking measures to remove the difficulties of importers/exporters.

(g) Permanent Trade Facilitation Committee (PTFC): PTFCs having membership of all stakeholders function in each Customs station to resolve local issues. As a trade facilitation measure and with a view to encourage stakeholder participation and provide for expeditious resolution of local issues (without these being escalated to the Department/Board), the Board has instructed the Chief Commissioners to ensure that:

(i) PTFC are held regularly with minimum of one meeting per month on a pre-decided date.

(ii) Apex trade bodies are allowed to attend the PTFC meetings along with their local constituents, who are members of the PTFC.

(iii) Efforts are made to regularly review the membership of the PTFC with the aim of including all stakeholders in the Customs functioning.

(iv) Chief Commissioners/Commissioners are receptive to meeting local and apex trade bodies even outside the framework of the PTFC.

[Refer Circular No.42/2013 Cus., dated 25-10-2013]

3. Grievance redressal and facilitation measures for passengers:

3.1 At international airports more than 90% of the passengers that have nothing to declare walk through the Green Channel without interaction with Customs. Even otherwise, the Air Customs Officers have been sensitized to show due courtesy and exemplary conduct towards all passengers. However, in case any 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 advising them to approach the PRO (Customs) for help. Senior officers of the rank of Assistant/Deputy Commissioners of Customs are also available round the clock and can be directly approached by passengers for redressal of their grievances.

3.2 The Notices displayed prominently at the airports also invite the public to lodge any complaint with the Commissioner of Customs or the CVC.

3.3 An Airport Facilitation Committee has been constituted to look into the complaints of the passengers at the international airports. This Committee includes representatives of various agencies working at the airport like IAAI, Customs, Immigration, and Police etc. and meets once a month.

4. Setting up of ‘Customs Clearance Facilitation Committee’ (CCFC):

4.1 The Government has in recent times taken a number of measures to create an environment for ease of doing business and trade facilitation. The measures include the simplification of Customs procedures, reduction of documents, message exchange between Government agencies engaged in Customs clearance, and use of digital signature for electronic submission of Customs process documents. Continuing in this direction, it has been decided with the approval of the Cabinet Secretary to establish a high-level administrative body at each seaport and airport with the responsibility of ensuring expeditious Customs clearance of imported and export goods.

4.2 In this regard it is seen that in terms of the Customs Act, 1962 read with the relevant rules and regulations, imported and export goods are subjected to certain legal and procedural formalities before being permitted clearance by Customs. These requirements include the submission of prescribed documents and adherence to laid down procedures before an appropriate legal order is given by the Customs officer permitting the importer/exporter to clear the goods for the intended purpose. If provisions of other Allied Acts are attracted in respect of the imported/export goods, permission to clear the goods is given by the Customs only after getting the suitable clearance/response/NOC from the Government Department/agency concerned. Some of the major Departments/agencies that are involved in Customs clearance process are as follows:

(i) Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)/Port Health Officer (PHO)

(ii) Plant Quarantine Authorities

(iii) Animal Quarantine Authorities

(iv) Drug Controller of India (CDSO)

(v) Textile Commissioner

(vi) Wildlife Authorities

4.3 In addition, the Port Trusts/Airport Authority/Custodians and Railways play a critical role in the Customs clearance process by providing the required infrastructure and facilities. Other local agencies concerned with logistics, manpower etc. which operate in the seaports and airports also facilitate the Customs clearance process.

4.4 Since the aforementioned regulatory agencies are critical contributors to the Customs clearance process of imported and export goods, a delay in receipt of a clearance from one regulatory agency holds up the Customs clearance of the said goods. Lack of adequate infrastructure in the seaport or airport or testing laboratories etc. also contribute to delay in the clearance of imported and export goods. Any other deficiency on account of other stakeholders also enhances the dwell time of cargo as well as the overall turnaround time of carriers. Another important reason for the delay is the improper coordination or absence of efficient coordination amongst Government agencies and other stakeholders involved in the Customs clearance process. Therefore, a view has emerged that these deficiencies can be best removed by institutionalizing at each seaport and airport an administrative mechanism with responsibility of expeditious Customs clearance of imported and export goods and for resolving related trade grievances in a time bound manner.

4.5 Accordingly, the Board vide Circular No. 13/ 2015-Customs dated 13-4-2015 has decided to set up a Customs Clearance Facilitation Committee (CCFC) at every major Customs seaport and airport with immediate effect. The CCFC would be headed by the Chief Commissioner of Customs/Commissioner of Customs in charge of the seaport and airport concerned. Its membership would include the senior-most functionary of the following departments/agencies/stakeholder at the particular seaport/airport:

(i) Food Safety Standards Authority of India/Port Health Officer (PHO)

(ii) Plant Quarantine Authorities

(iii) Animal Quarantine Authorities

(iv) Drug Controller of India (CDSO)

(v) Textile Committee

(vi) Port Trust / Airport Authority of India / Custodians

(vii) Wild Life Authorities

(viii) Railways/CONCOR

(ix) Pollution Control Board

(x) Any other Department / Agency / stakeholder to be co-opted on need basis.

4.6 Terms of Reference for the CCFC are as follows:

(i) Ensuring and monitoring expeditious clearance of imported and export goods in accordance with the timeline specified by the parent ministry/Department concerned;

(ii) Identifying and resolving bottlenecks, if any, in the clearance procedure of imported and export goods;

(iii) Initiating Time Release Studies for improvement in the clearance time of imported and export goods;

(iv) Having internal consultations to speed up the clearance process of imported and export goods and recommending best practices thereto for consideration of CBEC / Departments / Agencies concerned; and

(v) Resolving grievances of members of the trade and industry in regard to clearance process of imported and export goods.

The CCFC shall meet once a week or more frequently, if considered necessary by the chair. The CCFC shall be headed by the Chief Commissioners of Customs/Customs and Central Excise at the place of headquarters of these officers. At other places it would be headed by the Commissioners of Customs/Customs and Central Excise in charge of the seaport/airport. Chief Commissioners of Customs/Customs and Central Excise are also required to periodically review the working of the CCFC and its impact on reducing delays in the Customs clearance time of imported and export goods and in resolving related trade grievances.

[Refer Circular No. 13/ 2015-Customs dated 13-4-2015]

5. Setting up of Turant Suvidha Kendra

5.1 Circular No.28/2020-Customs, dated 05.06.2020 provided for setting up Turant Suvidha Kendras(TSK) for the purpose of implementation of 1st Phase of Faceless Assessment at Bengaluru and Chennai and Instruction No.09/2020-Customs,dated 05.06.2020, details the roles and functions of TSKs. Function mentioned in Para 5 of Circular No. 28/2020-Customs are as follows –

a) Accept Bond or Bank Guarantee;

b) Carry out any other verifications that may be referred by Faceless Assessment Groups;

c) Defacing of documents/ permits licences, wherever required;

d) Debit of documents/ permits/ licences, wherever required; and V. Other functions determined by Commissioner to facilitate trade.

[Refer Circular No-32/2020-Customs dated 06.07.2020]

6. Generation and quoting of Document Identification Number (DIN) on any communication issued by the officers of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) to tax payers and other concerned persons

6.1 The Board in exercise of its power under section 151A of the Customs Act, 1962 directs that nosearch authorization, summons, arrest memo, inspection notices and letters issued in the course of any enquiry shall be issued by any officer under the Board to a taxpayer or any other person, on or after the 8″” day of November, 2019 without a computer-generated Document Identification Number (DIN) being duly quoted prominently in the body of such communication. The digital platform for generation of DIN is hosted on the Directorate of Data Management (DDM)’s online portal “cbicddm.gov.in”

[Refer Circular No. 37/2019 dated 05.11.2019]

Source – Custom Duty Manual 2023

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