In their pre-budget memorandum, the Chamber has also suggested that central excise officers should have the power to search a conveyance either at the point of loading or at the destination, but not while in transit.
The Chamber also feels that the responsibilities of truck drivers should be restricted to having a goods receipt. The truck owner or transport operator, who has issued a goods receipt, should ensure that he takes a document from the consignor incorporating description of the goods, name and address of the consignor and similar details for the consignee. The truck drivers or transport operators are not educated enough to ascertain the taxes applicable to the goods.
According to Phdcci, there is gross abuse of power by field staff and trucks are searched and seized on flimsy grounds to harass or intimidate the taxpayer. Transport operators and truck drivers also face harassment and loss in business.
The memorandum states that provisions of confiscation of goods were incorporated in the Central Excise Act when other penal provisions were not included in the Act or Rules. Adequate penal provisions have been introduced in the Act over the last few years. Section 11AC imposes mandatory penalty equal to the duty that was sought to be evaded. Further, a manufacturer is also liable to pay interest, at the rate of 15 per cent per annum, on the duty that was sought to be evaded. Consequently, no other penal provision is required in the Act for cases involving tax evasion. Therefore, there is no justification behind confiscation of the goods and their subsequent release on payment of redemption fine.
The memorandum suggests that there is a need to delete the provision of confiscation of goods from the Act and the Rules. Notification No 68/63 issued under Section 12 of the Central Excise Act that enables provisions of the Customs Act relating to confiscation applicable to Excise Act should be rescinded.