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CBIC : Camera-fitted jacket mandatory for Customs officials handling Sea Cargoes

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NEW DELHI : 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.

The CBIC issued Circular No. 07/2022-Customs dated March 07, 2023 regarding the Boarding functions for Improving transparency using a boarding Jacket fitted with Body Worn Camera (“BWC”) having a video/audio recording facility by Boarding Officer.

Kind attention of field formations is drawn to relevant instructions in the Customs Preventive Manual 1987, Circular No. 36/95-Cus dated April 10, 1995 and 25/2016-Customs dated June 23, 2016 whereby Board had issued guidelines relating to boarding of vessels by Customs Officers.

It is well known that all vessels arriving into the country report their arrival to the Customs and Port authorities. The Boarding Officer/s are usually the first to set foot on any vessel entering the Indian frontiers and they are the cutting-edge functionaries of the Customs Service whose visibility extends to the shipping lines, terminal operators, logistic partners, custom brokers, businessmen, crew members /passengers, etc. The Boarding Officer acts as an ambassador of our country and is expected to seamlessly initiate and conduct customs formalities and procedures.

Keeping the above as an objective, and continuing with various reforms undertaken by Customs through leveraging technology so as to improve transparency & ease of doing business, to present more professionally the role of the Boarding Officer, 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 Nhava Sheva and Ahmedabad Customs Zones, had implemented, since August 2022, the sporting of boarding jacket fitted with Body Worn Camera (BWC) with video/audio recording facility by Boarding Officers while carrying out duties on board the vessels. Copies of the JNCH Standing Order No. 10/2022 dated August 11, 2022 and Ahmedabad Customs Zone Standing Order No. 03/2022 dated August 12, 2022, are for reference.

Based on the feedback received from these Zones, the Board has now decided to extend the use of boarding jackets fitted with Body Worn Camera (BWC) with video/audio recording facility by Boarding Officers while carrying out duties on board vessels from April 15, 2023 with respect to the sea customs functions.

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