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Sea Cargoes news: Camera-fitted jacket mandatory for customs officials handling sea cargoes

Customs officials clearing cargo at sea ports will now sport jackets fitted with Body Worn Camera with video and audio recording facility. The Central Board of Indirect Tax and Customs (CBIC) has made it mandatory for all boarding officers engaged in sea Customs, starting from April 15.

This will improve transparency and ease of doing business through leveraging technology, the Central Board of Indirect Tax and Customs said in a circular sent to all principals commissioners and chief commissioners of Customs.

Also it will help in keeping scope for upfront evidence in case of an offence or likely offence, and enhancing the protection of interest of the Customs Officer against frivolous complaints, the circular said.

The centre has earlier implemented it on pilot basis in Nhava Sheva and Ahmedabad Customs Zones from August 15, 2022.

“Based on the feedback received from these zones and in order to improve more transparency, legitimacy and accountability for both the citizens and the Custom Officers, it has been decided to extend the use of such boarding jackets fitted with BWC by Boarding Officers from 15 April 2023,” the circular said.

It added that Boarding Officers shall ensure to activate recording on approaching the gangway and shall make the stakeholder aware that they are being recorded.

The circular specified that in case more than one Boarding Officers are deputed for boarding functions, all boarding officers shall carry such jackets.”It will not only add to the visibility of the officer but also has the benefit of increased transparency, legitimacy and accountability for both the citizens and the Custom Officers especially in light of enhanced scrutiny of such public interactions,” Saurabh Agarwal, Tax Partner, EY said.

He added that though certain responsibility of the boarding officer has been prescribed, detailed guidelines with respect to retention of recording and its access, storage of data and the manner of usage is expected from CBIC.

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