In addition to departmental action, prosecution in court of
law is often resorted to in cases of customs contraventions. In
case of outright smuggling or for habitual offenders, it is launched
as a matter of course. In appraising cases (such as those relating
to mis-declaration of quantity, description of value of goods),
it is resorted to the mensrea is involved and value of goods is
sufficiently high. Punishments are quite server, going upto imprisonment
for seven years and fine.
It was proposed to set up a Settlement Commission in Finance
(No. 2) Act, 1998. It will interalia, have the power to grant immunity
from prosecution and immunity, full or partial, from infliction
of fine, penalty and interest provided the assessee makes a true
and full declaration of his duty liability. The provisions will
apply in cases where the additional duty liability accepted by the
assessee exceeds Rs. 2 lakhs and where a bill of entry has been
filed by the assessee or a show cause notice has been issued to
him by Customs and the matter is not already pending ing Appellate
Tribunal or Court.
Advance Ruling Authority
The Finance Bill, 1999 proposes to set up an advance Ruling
Authority to give rulings on classification and valuation issues
in advance for the benefit of joint ventures with NRIs.