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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.

Settlement Commission

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 NRI’s.

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