Customs mull over spot bail to duty evaders
Persons arrested for evading duty at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport might soon get bail on the spot.mumbai Updated: Oct 18, 2011 01:45 IST
Persons arrested for evading duty at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport might soon get bail on the spot.
Customs authorities are deliberating on whether senior customs officials, like the police, should be granted the authority to release persons caught under the Customs Act after payment of bail money, without producing them in court.
Officials are going to meet this week to take a decision on the same. “If the move is accepted, the procedure that needs to be followed would be decided,” said an official from the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) on condition of anonymity. The AIU is the official body that makes arrests under the Customs Act.
The need for spot bail at the airport comes after the Supreme Court (SC), on September 30, ruled that offences under the Customs Act are non-cognisable and bailable. After the SC order, all those arrested under the act are released on bail soon after they are produced in court.
A customs official said taking a person caught for duty evasion to court is futile, as he is sure to get bail under the Customs Act. He explained that since officials are vested with the power to release an offender involved in a non-cognisable and bailable offence, they should be allowed to grant spot bail.
But the customs department is divided on the issue, as many officials feel that the court has the power to impose restrictions on the offenders even if they are not subsequently sent to custody.
Advocate Ravi Hirani, who handles customs-related cases, said, “The court can direct the accused to surrender his passport and ask him to deposit a security amount, which customs officials will not be permitted to do.”