A city court on Tuesday sentenced the Commissioner of Customs department to six months of imprisonment for failing to pay airfare and hotel accommodation to two accused in a tax evasion case as directed by it.
In October 1997, the customs sleuths had intercepted Subhash Gandhi (68) and Harish Gandhi (58), NRIs based in Dubai, for carrying undeclared gold worth Rs 71 Lakh.
The case was registered in 1997 and since then more than 100 adjournments in the last 13 years have been sought by the department. The accused were regularly coming to court from Dubai and Mumbai but only to witness adjournments on frivolous grounds.
HT on April 1 reported the matter when court imposed a fine of Rs 23,307 on the customs department for the airfare and travel accommodation of the accused.
Ordering the arrest of Commissioner, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Patiala House courts said it seems the commissioner is “most interested in harassing the accused rather than paying penalty”.
The court noted that Harish comes from Dubai and Subhash from Mumbai to attend regular hearing. Citing the innumerable adjournments, the judge said, “The prosecution of the accused should not turn to persecution.”
The court noted that Satish Aggarwal, a counsel for the customs department, was most of the time absent from hearing, citing his busy schedule.
Fearing his arrest, the Commissioner immediately directed his subordinates to rush to the court with the penalty amount.
The counsel for customs requested the court to draw back the arrest orders, as the department has already remitted the fine amount.