MADURAI: Impleading the Central Board of Excise and Customs and the Director General of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) as parties to a petition seeking a ban on illegal import of Chinese fireworks, the Madras High Court’s Madurai Bench has also asked the CBI to update it on any probe on the issue.
Hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by one Muthukrishnan seeking to destroy banned crackers illegally stocked in India and a CBI inquiry into the issue, a bench comprising Justices R Kirubakaran and S Vaidyanathan observed that the matter was serious in nature as it has a countrywide implication. During the hearing of the case, Santharam Nagaraj, counsel for the Sivakasi Firecracker Association, which had impleaded as a party, submitted that the Director of Foreign Trade had in 2002 issued a communiqué to the Customs Department to treat Chinese firecrackers as explosive substances. Import of such goods was not statutorily approved and hence they were brought to India through false declarations in the name of importing electronic goods, he alleged.
Following complaints, 600 containers of Chinese crackers were seized in Noida in recent times. Besides, these crackers were being brought through the Nepal border.
On hearing this, the judges directed the court registry to implead the Principal Chief Commissioner of Central Board of Excise and Customs and the DRI as a party to the case and submit their affidavit by Wednesday.
The judges said that if everything is properly checked at the entry point, then no problem could arise. Earlier, the court asked the Assistant Commissioner of Customs of VOC Port in Thoothukudi, Bharadwaj, regarding the steps taken to curb the illegal import of Chinese crackers through the port.
The officer replied that though the authorities gave priority to checking each container from China, the work could not be completed swiftly due to shortage of scanners. At present the port officials are using scanners functioning with gamma rays. Within two months they would install x-ray scanners for checking the containers, he added.
Meanwhile, the petitioner’s counsel Anantha Murugan insisted on a CBI inquiry as the Tamil Nadu police cannot proceed beyond their jurisdictional area.
The judges directed the Virudhunagar Superintendent of Police S Maheswaran, who appeared in the court, to arrest certain accused in the case to ensure that the matter was investigated under his direct supervision.
The court also directed the CBI to inform it about cases and investigations, if any, on the issue and adjourned the hearing to Wednesday.