The CBIC has issued Instruction No. 12/2023 dated March 27, 2023 regarding the demarcation of the role of the Central Intelligence Unit (“CIU”) in a Custom House in relation to anti-smuggling work.
In examining references from the trade and Stakeholders, it has been noticed that customs field formations have adopted varying practice in work allocation between the Special Intelligence and Investigation Unit (SIIB) [Import/Export] and the Central Intelligence Unit (CIU) in relation to anti-smuggling cases.
The matter has been reviewed in the Board. Noting precedence [Central Board of Revenue F.No,4/120/61 -Cus.lll dated December 29, 1961 addressed to all Collectors of Customs; Custom House Madras Circular No. 1/85-CIU dated September 10, 1985 (No.C.21/7/85-Vig)], and keeping in view developments over time, as well as recognizing the need for specialization and exclusivity of work, it is decided by the Board that insofar as in the course of any anti-smuggling work, including in detection of irregularities in commercial cases involving loss of revenue or violation of any prohibition/ restriction on import or export of goods, where case investigated has a vigilance [Reference to vigilance aspect/angle includes foul-play, mis-conduct, connivance etc. of personnel] aspect or angle, it should be the CIU which intervenes and investigates, and if it does not have a vigilance aspect or angle, its investigation should be done by the SIIB.
Thus, anti-smuggling cases which in the first instance (including at intelligence stage) are viewed to involve only revenue and/or restriction prohibition angle and no vigilance aspect, should not be taken up by the CIU, but be handled by the SIIB (or equivalent unit). When an anti-smuggling case is suspected to involve vigilance aspect and is taken up by the CIU, however, it is found to be not involving such angle, it should be transferred to the SIIB for further follow up and finalizing the investigation.
Similarly, anti-smuggling cases, which in the first instance (including at intelligence stage) are viewed to involve vigilance aspects, should not be taken up by the SIIB, but be handled by the CIU. When an anti-smuggling case, which was initially assessed to only revenue and/or restriction-prohibition angle and no vigilance aspect, has been taken up by the SIIB, however, it is found to be a case involving a vigilance angle, it should be transferred to the CIU for further follow up and finalizing investigation.
It is advised that Custom Houses that do not have a separate CIU should set one up. Setting up of only a single Unit performing centralized CIU functions for a Customs Zone is desirable, exception being when this may not be practicable for administrative or geographical reasons. The overall head of a CIU must be a Principal Commissioner or Commissioner. The Pr. Chief Commissioner/Chief Commissioner should ensure a centralized standing order placing the CIU with a specific Commissioner in the Customs Zone as also specifying its overall functions.
The Instruction can be accessed at: https://taxinformation.cbic.gov.in/view-pdf/1000469/ENG/Instructions