Central Excise department issued a circular regarding rules of arrest and bail. Central excise department issued a circular no. 974/2013 dated 19 September 2013. Full circular is as under.
1.1 I am directed to invite your attention to the amendments to sections 9A, 20 and 21 of the Central Excise Act, 1944 vide the Finance Act, 2013. A new sub-section (1A) has been inserted in section 9A to specify that the offences relating to excisable goods, where the duty involvement exceeds Rs. fifty lakh and which are punishable under clause (b) or clause (bbbb) of sub-section (1) of section 9, are cognizable and non-bailable. For ease of reference, clause (b) and clause (bbbb) of sub-section 9(1) as well as new sub-section 9A (1A) are summarized below:
(i) Clause (b) of sub-section 9(1) - Whoever evades the payment of any duty payable under this Act;
(ii) Clause (bbbb) of sub-section 9(1) – Whoever contravenes any of the provisions of this Act or the rules made there under in relation to credit of any duty allowed to be utilised towards payment of excise duty on final product.
(iii) Sub-section 9A(1A) - The offences relating to excisable goods where the duty leviable thereon under this Act exceeds fifty lakh rupees and punishable under clause (b) or clause (bbbb) of sub-section (1) of section 9, shall be cognizable and non-bailable.
1.2 All other offences under section 9 are non-cognizable and bailable.
2.1 Thus the offences under Central Excise Act fall in two categories - bailable and non-bailable. Depending on the type of offence committed, a person is liable to be arrested in either of the two category of offence. Since arrest takes away the liberty of an individual, the power must be exercised with utmost care and caution and only when the exigencies of the situation demand arrest.
3.1 A person is liable to be arrested for non-bailable offence only when the offence committed by him is covered under clause (b) or clause (bbbb) of sub-section 9(1) and the duty involvement exceeds Rs. fifty lakh. Thus, it is essential to examine offences in each and every case with reference to each of the clauses of sub-section 9(1) and also the quantum of duty involved prior to invoking the arrest provisions. Only where clause (b) or clause (bbbb) are the most appropriate clauses to describe the offence and duty involved exceeds rupees fifty lakhs, these provisions should be invoked. Any person arrested for offences under these clauses should be informed of the grounds of arrest and produced before a magistrate without unnecessary delay and within 24 hours of arrest.
3.2 A list of non-bailable offences where decision to arrest may be taken by the Commissioner is given below:-
(a) clandestine removal of manufactured goods;
(b) removal of goods without declaring the correct assessable value and receiving a portion of sale price in cash which is in excess of invoice price and not accounted for in the books of account;
(c) taking Cenvat Credit without the receiving the goods specified in the invoice;
(d) taking Cenvat Credit on fake invoices;
(e) issuing Cenvatable invoices without delivering the goods specified in the said invoice.
3.3 In all other cases of cognizable and non-bailable offences, covered by clause (b) or clause (bbbb) of sub-section 9(1) where the duty involved exceeds rupees fifty lakhs, which are not listed at paragraph 3.2 above, e.g. (i) removal of inputs as such, without reflecting such removal in records, on which Cenvat credit has been taken, without payment of amount equal to the credit availed on such inputs (ii) irregular and wrongful availment of benefit of central excise duty exemption by reason of fraud, collusion, willful misstatement, suppression of facts, or contravention of the provisions of the Act or the rules with intent to evade payment of duty, etc, decision to arrest shall be taken by the Commissioner only with the approval of the jurisdictional Chief Commissioner.
4.1 A person is also liable to be arrested in case of non-cognizable and bailable offences, when such an offence is committed. Amendments have been made in section 20 and section 21 to provide, inter alia, that powers to grant bail or release an arrested person on execution of bond can be exercised only for offences which are non-cognizable. Any person arrested for non-cognizable offence shall have to be released on bail, if he offers bail, and in case of default of bail, he is to be forwarded to the custody of magistrate. In terms of notification no 9/99-C.E.(N.T.) dated 10-2-99, an officer not below the rank of Superintendent of Central Excise can exercise powers under section 21 including powers to grant bail.
4.2 Bail should be subject to the condition(s), as deemed fit, depending upon the facts and circumstances of each individual case. It has to be ensured that the amount of bail bond/ surety should not be excessive and should be commensurate with the financial status of the arrested person. Further the bail conditions should be informed by the arresting officer in writing to the person arrested and also informed on telephone to the nominated person of the person(s) arrested. Arrested person should be allowed to talk to the nominated person. If the conditions of the bail are fulfilled by the arrested person, he shall be released by the officer concerned on bail. The arresting officer may, and shall if such a person is indigent and unable to furnish surety, instead of taking bail, discharge him on executing a bond without sureties to his appearance as provided under section 436 of CrPC. However, in cases where the conditions for granting bail are not fulfilled, the arrested person shall be produced before the appropriate magistrate within 24 hours of arrest.
4.3 Only in the event of circumstances preventing the production of the person arrested before a Magistrate without unnecessary delay, the arrested person may be handed over to nearest Police Station for his safe custody during night, under proper Challan and produced before the magistrate the next day. These provision shall apply for non-bailable offence also. The nominated person of the arrested person may also be informed accordingly.
Precautions to be taken by the departmental officers
5.1 Powers to arrest a person needs to be exercised with utmost caution. Chief Commissioners/ Commissioners of Central Excise are required to ensure that approval for arrest for non-bailable offence is granted only where the intent to evade duty is evident and element of mens rea / guilty mind is palpable. Attention is also invited to the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in case of D. K. Basu Vs State of West Bengal, wherein specific guidelines in respect of arrest have been provided. These are required to be followed.
5.2 Decision to arrest needs to be taken on case-to-case basis considering various factors, such as, nature & gravity of offence, quantum of duty evaded or credit wrongfully availed, nature & quality of evidence, possibility of evidences being tampered with or witnesses being influenced, cooperation with the investigation, etc. To summarize, power to arrest has to be exercised after careful consideration of the facts of the case and the above factors.
5.3 There is no prescribed format for arrest memo but an arrest memo must be in compliance with the directions of Hon’ble Supreme Court in case of D. K. Basu Vs State of W.B reported as 1997 (1) SCC 416. The arrest memo should include -
(a) brief facts of the case;
(b) details of the person arrested;
(c) gist of evidence against the person;
(d) relevant Section(s) of the Central Excise Act, 1944 attracted in the case;
(e) the grounds of arrest must be explained to the person arrested and this fact noted in the arrest memo;
(f) a nominated person (as per details provided by the person arrested) of the person arrested should be informed immediately and this fact also may be mentioned in the arrest memo;
(g) the date and time of arrest may be mentioned in the arrest memo and the arrest memo should be given to person arrested under proper acknowledgement;
(h) a separate arrest memo has to be made and provided to each person arrested.
5.4 Further there are certain modalities that should be complied with at the time of arrest and pursuant to an arrest, which include the following:-
(i) Arrest of a female should be carried out by or in the presence of a lady officer;
(ii) Arrest memo should be attested by nominated person (such as member of family) of the person arrested or a respectable member of the locality from where the arrest is made;
(iii) Medical examination of the arrested person should be conducted by a medical officer in the service of Central or State Governments and in case such medical officer in not available, by a registered medical practitioner soon after the arrest is made. If an arrested person is a female then such an examination shall be made only by, or under supervision of a female medical officer, and in case such female medical officer is not available, by a female registered medical practitioner;
(iv) It shall be the duty of the officer having the custody of the arrested person to take reasonable care of the health and safety of the person arrested.
Reports to be sent
6.0 Chief Commissioners shall send a report on every arrest to the Zonal Member within 24 hours of the arrest giving such details as have been prescribed in the monthly report. To maintain an all India record of arrests made in Central Excise, a monthly report of all persons arrested in the Zone shall be sent by the Chief Commissioner to the DGCEI, Headquarters, New Delhi in the format, hereby prescribed and enclosed, by the 5th of the succeeding month.
7.0 All previous circulars on arrest and instructions in the Supplementary manual of instructions stand modified to the above extent.