BANGALORE: Taking advantage of lax laws governing piracy and smuggling, many people who deal in counterfeit items manage to continue their business after paying fines, said P C Jha, former chairman of Central Board of Excise and Customs and now a member of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Speaking at a seminar on ‘Curbing Counterfeiting and Smuggling’ organised by FICCI, Jha said a 10 per cent reduction in piracy in the IT sector would lead to the creation of 1 lakh jobs, according to estimates. “The laws provide for a two year-jail term or a maximum of `2 lakh fine. When a person makes crores from piracy, `2 lakh is peanuts. Also cases go on for ten years or so. The laws are not strict enough,” he said.
Jha said there is lack of coordination between various government departments, which lets criminals escape from the law. “When there is more than one department involved, coordination becomes difficult,” he said. According to data compiled by Jha from government sources, in 2012, the grey market share for the automobile sector was 29 per cent and that for FMCG personal products 25 per cent. “According to other non-government based estimates, the level of piracy in IT is 80 per cent,” Jha said.
Consumer Affairs Minister Dinesh Gundurao said he was working on separating the Consumer Affairs Department from his ministry. The minister also handles Food and Civil Supplies. “I think, with us being busy with food supplies, the consumer affairs department does not have enough focus. I have been working on suggestions to make it a separate directorate,” he said.
The minister said the laws of the land were insufficient to deal with smuggling and counterfeit products. “Courts and laws in the state are not functioning as they ought to. However, thankfully, consumer groups are quite active in Karnataka,” he said.
The one-day seminar also had a panel discussion on intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement issues involving smuggling and counterfeiting with participation from police and customs officers.