The Finance Ministry has made the unauthorised publication of import-export data a compoundable offence, wherein an offender can avoid prosecution by paying Rs 1 lakh compounding amount.
The Budget 2022-23 inserted Section 135AA in the Customs Act that made unauthorised publishing of information, like value or quantity, relating to export or import a penal offence, inviting a jail term of up to 6 months or a fine of Rs 50,000.
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) on August 22 notified the amendments to the Customs (Compounding of Offences) Amendment Rules, 2022, by including offences under Section 135AA of the Customs Act.
As per the amendment, the compounding charges to be paid by the offender would be “Rs one lakh for the first offence, to be increased by 100 per cent of this amount for each subsequent offence”.
Compounding allows the person to accept his offence and pay specified charges to avoid prosecution.
As per the amendment, the compounding authority would be required to satisfy itself that full and true disclosure has been made by the applicant for the compounding of the offence.
The authority will be required to dispose of the compounding application within 6 months.
Further, the CBIC has directed field offices to hold periodic outreach programmes to educate on the benefits of compounding provisions.
KPMG in India Partner Indirect Tax Abhishek Jain said the concept of compounding allows an assessee to avoid prosecution in case of specified instances of non-compliance, subject to payment of applicable compounding fees.
“These changes seem to have been made in an endeavour to prevent unnecessary litigation, which is the principle intent behind incorporating compounding provisions in the law,” Mr Jain added.
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