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Report No. 47

15.90. Tampering with Customs documents.-

It has been suggested1 that tampering with documents which are relevant to evidence under the Customs Act should be made a specific offence under the law. It appears that one of the sub-clauses of clause (72) of section 167 of the Sea Customs Act, 1878, specifically dealt with counterfeiting, falsifying, fraudulently altering or destroying any document, or any seal, signature or initials or other marks made or impressed by any officer of Customs in the transaction of any business relating to customs.

Section 132 of the Customs Act, 1962 has replaced the first sub-clause of clause (72) of section 167 of the Sea Customs Act, 1878 (with some modifications). Section 132 makes a false declaration, false statement or filing false documents or abetment thereof, an offence. It is, however, seen that the previous provision relating to fraudulent alteration etc. has been dropped under the Act of 1962.

1. Collector of Customs, Madras, (Letter dated 17-11-1971).

15.91. It is understood1 that the relevant sub-clauses of section 167, clause (72) were deleted, as they were considered to be offences under the general provision in the Penal Code.

1. Customs Bill (No. 56 of 1962)-Notes on Clauses.

15.92. The law with regard to tampering with documents is contained in the Penal Code1. The definition of 'forgery' in the Code covers all possible situations. Further, the punishment in respect of forgery has, in the Law Commission's Report2 on the revision of the Penal Code, been proposed to be raised to three years' imprisonment or fine or both. In the circumstances, there is no need to make any provision in the Customs Act as to tampering with documents.

1. Chapter 18, section 463, et. seq., Indian Penal Code.

2. 42nd Report of the Law Commission (Indian Penal Code), Chapter 18 under section 463.

15.93. Gold (Control) Act-Punishment.-

The Gold (Control) Act is the last of the Acts with which this Report is concerned. It has been stated1 that section 85 of the Gold (Control) Act covers a wide range of offences punishable with imprisonment of a minimum of six months and maximum of 3 years, and also with fine. It has been suggested that this section should be split up, and for offences relating to the manufacture, possession, acquisition and sale of primary gold punishable under section 85(i) to (iv), enhanced minimum and maximum punishments on the lines proposed for section 135 of the Customs Act, where the value of the primary gold involved is Rs. one lakh or more, should be provided.

The punishment in those cases would be minimum of one year and maximum of 7 years' imprisonment, and also fine. Likewise, it has been suggested that the punishment for contravention of section 53(3) [which enjoins that no licensed dealer, refiner or goldsmith, shall own or possess any gold, (primary gold, articles; ornaments which have not been included in the prescribed account)] should be stepped up. The suggested enhanced punishment is minimum imprisonment of one year and maximum of 7 years' imprisonment when the value of such unaccounted gold is Rs. one lakh or more.

1. Suggestion of a Ministry of the Government of India.

15.94. Amendment of section 85, Gold (Control) Act as to punishment.-

We think that it would be enough if, in accordance with our general recommendation for increase in the maximum punishment1, (and for minimum imprisonment and fine) section 85 is amended.

1. Para. 7.20, supra.

15.95. Amendment of Gold (Control) Act as to burden of proof.-

In accordance with our general recommendation1 for shifting the burden of proof as to mens rea, it will be necessary to insert a section in the Gold (Control) Act relating to the burden of proof of mens rea.

1. Para. 7.12, supra.

15.96. Gold (Control) Act-Publicity.-

It has been suggested1 that a provision be introduced under section 114 of the Gold (Control) Act for giving publicity to names and other particulars of persons found guilty of the contravention of the provisions of the Act, on the lines proposed under section 156 of the Customs Act, 1952.

We accept the principle of the suggestion2.

1. Suggestion of a Ministry of the Government of India.

2. Amendment is indicated separately.

15.97. False statements in applications etc.-

With reference to the making of false statements in an application, it was suggested during our oral discussions that it should be convenient if a specific provision on the subject is made in the Imports and Exports Control Act, instead of leaving the matter to be regulated by the relevant provision in the Indian Penal Code. We do not see any objection to such a provision. It may be stated that such a provision occurs in many Acts, though the maximum punishment varies from Act to Act. We list below a few of the pertinent provisions:-

Section 9(c), Central Excises Act, 1944-Supplying false information-six months.

Section 22 read with section 23(1A), Foreign Exchange Act-two years.

Section 16(1)(g), Prevention of Food Adulteration Act-False warranty.

Section 9, Essential Commodities Act-five years.

Section 277, Income-Tax Act.1

Section 132, Customs Act.

Sections 86 and 87, Gold (Control) Act.

We recommend the insertion of a suitable provision on the subject, in the Imports and Exports (Control) Act.

1. See para. 15.60, supra.

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