The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) on Friday issued instructions expressing concern over the list of offenders (caught for smuggling goods) not being updated at international airports.
The Hindustan Times had, on June 28, highlighted how the Mumbai Customs has failed to update the list since February.
The list, which needs to be updated on a monthly basis, is circulated in the immigration department. It is also given to all the airlines. Hence, when a passenger whose name is in the list arrives at the airport, the authorities are alerted in advance allowing them to keep a close watch on him.
“The board is also concerned about the lack of a computerised database of offence cases registered against erring passengers at international airports,” said the instruction issued on Friday.
The instruction, which is on the official website of CBEC, said that Chennai international airport was the only airport which used customised software, COPS (Customs Offences and Prosecution Software), to maintain and update an offender base.
Customs sources in Mumbai said the international airport had obtained COPS in 2007 from Chennai. But it was not being used to its full capacity.
“The lack of a database has resulted in an inadequate compliance with the board’s instructions regarding the identification of repeat offenders to decide fitness for arrest and the launch of prosecution,” the instruction said.
“Further, unavailability of a ready and easy-to-use database on habitual offenders leaves enough scope to adjudicate the cases of non-bonafide baggage with nominal fine and penalty by Customs authorities,” it said.
“The board, therefore, desires that the concerned commissioners at international airports should immediately explore the feasibility of replicating the COPS software in their airports, in consultation with director general (System), New Delhi,” the instruction stated.
Sources said authorities at the Mumbai’s international airport would begin updating the list from next week.