After the Supreme Court made offences under the Customs Act bailable, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) is seeking an amendment to the law to make offences under the act non-bailable.
Sources in the customs said the CBEC would soon submit a proposal to the Central government, asking it to take up the issue before the cabinet committee.
On September 30, the SC ruled that offences under section 135 of the Customs Act (duty evasion) are bailable and if the person arrested offers bail money, he shall be released on bail.
Officials said the SC interpreted the provision and declared the offences under the act to be bailable and non-cognisable. Customs sources said officials now want to make offences under the act cognisable and non-bailable. Senior customs authorities said the demand to amend the law has been made so that the act’s shortcomings are permanently addressed.
“The SC has interpreted the provision and now declared the law as it is correctly to be understood,” said senior counsel Sujay Kantawala who handles customs-related cases.
Kantawala said the government could either unconditionally follow the law or amend it to make it specifically non-bailable.
Advocate Ravi Hirani who also deals with customs related-cases said that with the SC ruling, all those booked under Customs Act would get bail immediately after they are arrested and produced in court. Hirani said the government had another option — to file an appeal before a larger bench of the SC for revision of the order. Officials said that the department’s working has been affected by the SC ruling.
“So far, the judicial custody of the accused under this section ensured that he remained behind bars for few days, which worked as deterrent. Now, the accused would be out on bail immediately,” said a customs officer on condition of anonymity.