New Delhi: Now a person flying from abroad can be arrested by customs for outright smuggling or misdeclaration of baggage at airports only if the value of goods is over Rs 20 lakh against the earlier threshold of Rs 5 lakh.
As per current rules, a person can pay a fine for any undeclared or mis-declared baggage of a value up to Rs 5 lakh. If value of baggage is beyond this limit, it attracts prosecution or arrest. Centre has now raised this limit to Rs 20 lakh. However, there will be no lower limit for arrest and prosecution in the cases of smuggling of fake Indian currency notes, arms, ammunitions and explosives and endangered species. The monetary limits for arrest and prosecution have been revised substantially upwards on Friday to ensure that these powers are not used against small and medium businesses.
The limit in case of offence of evasion of tax or wrongful utilisation of input tax credit in case of central excise and service tax have been revised to Rs 1 crore from Rs 25 lakh and Rs 10 lakh respectively. In case of evasion of tax under the Customs Act, the limits have been revised to Rs 1 crore from Rs 10 lakh in case of evasion of tax by wrongful availment of exemption or duty drawback.
Similar, revisions regarding value of goods have been carried-out regarding appraisement of tax during import or export. In case of “habitual evaders”, notwithstanding the Rs 1 crore limit, prosecution can be launched in the case of a company/ assessee habitually evading tax/duty or misusing cenvat credit facility. The procedure to be followed for arrest and sanction of prosecution has been revised and specified with adequate safeguards to ensure that only in cases of serious nature above the revised thresholds, where there is strong prima-facie evidence, these powers are exercised, said finance ministry. Persons involved in offences of tax evasion are liable for arrest and prosecution under the Central Excise Act, 1994, and Finance Act, 1994.