Its not for nothing that Customs is the most sought after cadre behind IAS & IPS in Civil Services Examination. The department reeks of Corruption. Its has got an ever flowing stream of ‘liquid cash’ that beckons new recruits. Estimated average daily bribe collected by Customs officials range from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh as per graft investigators. Three recent HT stories give us a glimpse of the rot with in the department.
Hindustan Times, 09 Feb 2010: DRI raids and seizes Rs. 1.75 crores from Ashok Gulati, a Customs House Agent (Private entity who provide services to importers and exporters). He confesses that apart from Rs. 40 Lakhs the rest belonged to 4 Customs Officials including a Deputy Commissioner. DRI transfers the case to the Customs & Excise Department who order an internal inquiry.
Hindustan Times, 11 Feb 2010: The CHA, Ashok Gulati retracts his earlier statement. He now claims that the entire money belongs to him.
Hindustan Times, 21 Feb 2010: The story gives a detailed account of pen drives, cryptic codes & collection agents used by Corrupt customs officials to conceal their activities.
While the stream of corruption flows unabated, vigilance agencies only end up covering up whatever little gets exposed. There are many questions that fill our minds begging for answers:
1) Why were the customs officials not raided immediately after there were enough corroborating evidence.
2) Why was the CHA not used as a decoy to entrap the corrupt officials.
3) Has any systematic effort been made to counter this entrenched web of corruption?
4) How many officials have been raided/caught and successfully prosecuted in the past one year.
5) Are new recruits who opt for Customs asked why they did so?
6) What is it that makes Customs such a lucrative cadre choice, if not Corruption.