Customs officials at Mumbai International airport have been judicially cracking down on travellers evading customs duty that include top Bollywood stars, business tycoons and politicians in the last few months.
However, they were baffled when a leading courier firm tried to deceive them.
An employee from DTDC Courier bypassed the paper work procedure at the international airport, with an aim to evade customs duty at the courier terminal and allegedly walked away with the entire consignment.
A few hours later, the officials realising their folly, raided the warehouse of the courier firm to collect the cargo.
Lapse in procedure On September 25, a consignment imported by DTDC Courier, containing video cameras and accessories worth Rs 9 lakh on-board Air India flight 130 from London arrived at Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
As per customs regulations, the courier company has to make sure that imported goods pass through three stages -- screening, checking and documentation -- before claiming custody of the goods.
Apparently, the delivery manager from DTDC cleared only two stages and walked away with the consignment.
Senior Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) official of Mumbai Customs said, "Delivery manager, Sanjay Gundaye (30), came to take the delivery of the consignment. He cleared the first two stages, but withheld the documents relating to stage three, a mandatory customs clearance procedure. After a few hours, we realised what had happened and contacted DTDC. As we received no appropriate response, we raided the warehouse of the firm at Chakala, Andheri (East) and took the entire consignment in our custody. It had not been delivered yet, as September 25 was a holiday (Sunday)."
"We are also investigating the past transactions of this company through the airport to know whether this is the first time or a general practice adopted by them," said the AIU official.
Additional Commissioner AIU, Mahendra Pal said, "We have booked Gundaye for not declaring the consignment under Section 104 of Customs Act."
He added, "We also have registered the statement of the DTDC official who is in charge of international couriers."
Gundaye was arrested on October 3, and was granted bail on a bond of Rs 50,000.
Rs 9 lakh The value of the consignment containing video cameras and accessories
Other side The Customs officials have registered the statement of vice president, M M Sunil, DTDC Couriers (International division). However, Sunil refused to comment when he was contacted by this reporter.