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Graft Case: HC Rejects Plea of IRS Officer to Quash Proceedings

New Delhi: A senior IRS officer, facing trial in a graft case for allegedly fraudulently releasing duty draw back amounting to Rs 74.61 crore, has failed to get any relief from Delhi High Court which dismissed his plea to quash the proceedings in the matter against him.

The high court rejected the plea by Atul Dikshit, the then Commissioner of Customs at the inland container depot (ICD) in Tuglakabad here, in which he had claimed that under a special provision of the Customs Act, he was protected from prosecution for decisions taken in his official capacity.

“In the present case, allegations against the petitioner (Dikshit) are that instead of securing government revenue, he hatched conspiracy with co-accused to cause undue pecuniary advantage to the private party and ordered release of duty draw back.

“…I find no merit in the present petition. The impugned order based upon fair appreciation of facts and law warrants no intervention,” Justice S P Garg said while dismissing his appeal against the trial court’s order which had rejected his plea under section 155 of the Customs Act.

The court noted in its verdict that section 155(2) of the Customs Act was a special provision providing immunity to the custom officials for decisions taken by such them under the provisions of Customs Act.

It observed that Dikshit had not challenged the order of trial court taking cognizance of the offence as well as the order framing charge against him and when the trial was at its fag end, he had opted to move the plea under the Customs Act.

“Section 155(2) of the Customs Act does not prescribe any limitation for initiation of any criminal prosecution. The word ‘prosecution’ is conspicuously missing in section 155 (2) of the Customs Act. By no stretch of imagination, it can be inferred that limitation as prescribed under section 155 (2) Customs Act would be applicable to criminal proceedings,” the high court said.

CBI had lodged an FIR against Dikshit and others in 2015 for the alleged offences of criminal conspiracy and cheating under the IPC and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. He was arrested in August 2015 and was granted bail after CBI had filed a charge sheet in the case.

CBI had alleged that accused were arrested on allegations of fraudulent release of duty draw back (an amount of excise or import duty remitted on goods exported) amounting to Rs 74.61 crore by the custom officers at ICD Tuglakabad and ICD Patparganj to five firms controlled by a co-accused.

Diskhit and other accused have denied the allegations levelled against them.