Starting November, the Customs department is set to commence risk-profiling of passengers coming into India in a bid to tighten the noose around tax evaders, including smugglers and perpetrators of commercial frauds.
The system will run parallelly to a similar mechanism under the home ministry for internal security.
The Customs department will prepare electronic profiles of passengers on international flights to see “who are suspicious frequent fliers, those coming from risk-prone areas that are on radar of the investigating agencies like Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), those who have a past offence record and those against which alert circulars have been issued by law enforcing agencies,” an official source told The Indian Express.
Currently, while the department has a system of risk assessment checks in place for sea and air cargo, there is no such mechanism for passengers. The mapping and profiling of passengers, who are short-term visitors or frequent visitors, or against whom offence cases have been registered in the past, is not prepared for monitoring and apprehending the targets.
“Details of passengers travelling to India, prepared manually by the field formation, has been collated to form a database for preventing smuggling. This data along with the database prepared by the home ministry will be used by us for profiling. The department has already prepared a software to generate electronic data. This is likely to start from November. It will enhance our enforcement capabilities and help in passenger facilitation,” the official said.
The idea is to curb smuggling and prevent revenue leakage while at the same time secure international trade route, the official added. For instance, currently, passengers coming from Dubai, Thailand or Bangladesh are on the radar of the customs department for possible gold smuggling.
“The Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) will also be able to provide us information on exploitation of international trade route by the terrorists for terror financing. This will act as warning against sensitive persons, items and things,” the official said.
The first APIS will be implemented at the Delhi airport and later it will be extended to major ports including Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.