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LS pass Customs Amendment Bill to validate notices

The proposed amendment would safeguard government revenue involved in the show cause notices issued by different tax authorities.



New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a bill that will facilitate recovery of taxes worth crores of rupees by regularising notices which were rendered invalid by a Supreme Court order on technical grounds.

"The Supreme Court has invalidated notices (issued by custom officials) on technical grounds...The amendment will do a correction," Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena said, winding up the debate on the amendment bill.

The bill, later passed by voice vote, seeks to validate the show cause notices issued by customs officers, which were rendered invalid by the Supreme Court as they were not issued by proper officers.

The introduction of bill was necessitated as a large number of show cause notices for demand of duty were held invalid by the Supreme Court on the ground that they were not issued by `proper officers`, the statement of objects and reasons of the bill said.

Earlier, the Union Cabinet had cleared the proposal to amend the Customs Act, 1962, to get specified customs officers authorised for assessment of import duty.

The bill seeks recognition to certain customs officials from retrospective effect. On July 6, the Government had specified officers as `proper officers` for issuing show
cause notices for demand of customs duty.

As a consequence of the amendment bill, the government would be able to recover customs duty worth several thousands of crores of rupees.

Officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have alone issued notices involving customs duty to the tune of over Rs 7,500 crore.

The proposed amendment would safeguard government revenue involved in the show cause notices issued by different tax authorities, including Commissionerates of Customs, DRI, Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence and Central
Excise Commissionerates.

Responding to concerns raised by members, Meena said, the government is contemplating cadre restructuring and taking up steps to fill up the vacancies in the revenue department.

While participating in the debate, Uday Singh (BJP) said, the government should hold consultations with representatives of small and medium enterprises to understand and resolve their problems.

Others, who participated in the discussion included Shailendra Kumar (SP), Vijay Bahadur Singh (BSP), Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD), S Semmalai (AIADMK) and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD).

PTI

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