Drawback Circular No.12/2002-Cus.
12 February,2002.

F.No.609/43/2002-DBK
Government of India
Ministry of Finance
Department of Revenue

Subject: References received from the Field Formations without the approval of Commissioner of Customs concerned

            Central Board of Excise & Customs, Department of Revenue, has the overall administrative control over the Customs & Central Excise field formations spread all over India. However, being a part of the Central Government, Ministry of Finance, it also frames various rules and regulations under the Customs Act. The field formations, on the other hand, implement the policies, rules and regulations framed by the Central Board of Excise & Customs.

2.            The Directorate of Drawback, which is a part of the Central Board of Excise & Customs, among other things, is involved in formulation and notification of All Industry Rates of Duty Drawback, covering more than 800 export products. The field formations are expected to examine the export goods for classifying the same, with reference to various drawback entries (SS Nos.) of the Drawback Table and allow drawback rates specified therein.

3.            The Board lays down the policy only, and its interpretation rests with the field formations and the assessing officers posted therein. In case of any dispute or doubt, the established office procedure requires that the case be put up in writing to the adjudicating authorities, who in turn, should pass appealable Speaking Orders so that the exporters can prefer appeal before the Commissioner(Appeals). In those cases where the junior officers feel that the guidance of the superior officers or any discussion is necessary for resolving the issue, the files are to be put up to the superior officers including Commissioners of Customs.

4.            Commissioner of Customs are competent to resolve the issue as to the interpretation of policy/rules/regulations and the Customs Act, which may arise in their jurisdiction. Only such issues shall be referred to the Board which involve substantial question of law/policy and/or having wide ranging revenue implications and which in the opinion of Commissioners of Customs, the indulgence of the Board in formulation of a uniform policy/practice is necessary.

5.            It has, however, been experienced that officers in the rank of Deputy Commissioner/Assistant Commissioner and even Appraiser/Superintendent have been sending references to the Board along with the sealed samples of the consignments blandly seeking clarification as to the classification of the goods in question under various entries of the Drawback Table. This is highly irregular. This leads to avoidable harassment of the trade thereby adversely impacting the exports.

6.            It is clarified here that any reference to the Board can be made only by the Chief Commissioner of Customs or the Commissioner of Customs.

7.            Any deviation from the above mentioned arrangement should be viewed seriously and action may be taken against the Assessing Officers/Adjudicating Authorities.

8.            It has also been observed that the exporters are discouraged to approach the senior officers in the field formations and they are instead directed to seek clarification directly from the Directorate of Drawback. This tantamounts to incompetence in taking the decisions which the field officers are normally expected to take under the law. Further, this also results in needless increase in the work of the Directorate of Drawback. In the present regime of facilitation of trade, the exporters should be given sympathetic audience and this is required to be impressed upon the field officers. It should be endeavoured to dispose of the cases in the Field itself by adopting the prescribed legal procedure instead of referring the same in a routine manner to the Board.

9.            Suitable standing orders for guidance of the staff and trade may kindly be issued accordingly.

10.           The receipt of this Circular may kindly be acknowledged.