New Delhi, Mar 14 (PTI) Delhi Customs has decided to invoke a stringent provision of the anti-smuggling law to ensure that habitual gold smugglers get at least one-year detention to prevent them from illegally ferrying the yellow metal, official sources said today.
Customs officials at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here have decided to use “The Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974”, or COFEPOSA, against repeat offenders, they said.
Provisions under COFEPOSA allow preventive detention of one year for an offender, with slim chances of early bail, the sources said. The detention period can be extended up to two years under this law.
In most cases, a person caught smuggling gold is arrested under provisions of the Customs Act but is soon out on bail. Under COFEPOSA, bail will become difficult, a source explained.
Customs officials at the Delhi airport recently invoked COFEPOSA against two persons– a carrier and a Delhi-based jeweller — for their involvement in gold smuggling, sources said.
Both the accused are absconding and the state police, which will make the preventive detention under COFEPOSA, is on the look out, the sources said.
Customs officials had arrested the carrier, belonging to Uttar Pradesh, in November last year for allegedly smuggling about 845 grams gold, valued at Rs 22.93 lakh, at the airport. The accused had come from Nairobi via Muscat.
He disclosed after a detailed interrogation that a Delhi jeweller was involved in the smuggling. The carrier also claimed to have brought over two kilograms of gold on six occasion on behalf of the jeweller, they said.
Both were then arrested but later released on bail after which there has been no trace of them.
Based on the interrogation of the two, Customs officials decided to invoke COFEPOSA against them as they were habitual offenders, the sources said.
A proposal on invoking this stringent provision against seven to eight accused is pending approval from the Customs authorities. they said.
Over 110 cases of gold smuggling were registered between January and October 2017 at the Delhi airport, according to a senior customs official.
In these cases, 110kg of gold, valued at about Rs 37 crore, was seized, he said.
The demand for gold has been traditionally high in the country as people prefer to invest in it for better returns.
Customs officials maintain a high vigil at the Delhi airport, which registers a maximum number of cases of gold smuggling.
On Sunday, an Indian man was arrested by the Delhi Customs for allegedly trying to smuggle gold valuing about Rs 75 lakh into the country.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.