The guidelines come in the backdrop of reports of valuable items, including gold, being stolen from customs vaults. The issue was also flagged by Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in 2015, following which a committee was set up to recommend ways to strengthen the system for protecting Customs seized valuables.
The CBIC has now issued guidelines for implementing the recommendations of the committee, which among other things had suggested introduction of 'Intelligent Key Management System' and 'e-malkhana'.
"The access to Strong Rooms/Valuables Godowns is restricted to only authorised officers. An Intelligent Key Management System may be put in place where authorised officers can access the keys only after biometric verification," the CBIC said in its communication to field offices.
It said this system should include a feature to ensure that the keys can be accessed only when CCTV system is in activated mode. This would create an electronic record of all transactions and strengthen accountability.
The guidelines also suggested that all the strong rooms should be equipped with electronic weighing and X-ray machines, with a view to periodically check the seized inventories.
The CBIC also said that all the packages should be tagged with GPS to prevent theft, pilferage and substitution during the movement of valuables.
The field offices should also issue Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) to further strengthen and secure the internal systems and procedures to prevent theft of seized valuables.
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