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Sporting Equipment woes at Bangalore International Airport
Customs, Excise and Service Tax  |  Customs Check and Clearance Rs 8,000
This morning I landed at BIAL after a 3 week stay in the US. I am a software engineer and an active white water kayaker living in Bangalore. White water kayaking is an adventure sport that requires a lot of mind and body training akin to rock/high altitude climbing. Apart from the apathy and bureaucracy of the authorities involved the sport of kayaking in India is made even harder to pursue due to unavailability of kayaks and related kayaking equipment in this country. To that end, every time that I do travel abroad I make it a point to carry in equipment either for myself or for my buddies.
On this trip, I purchased a kayak which was worth close to Rs. 60,000. On arriving at Bangalore airport I declared the cost of the boat and produced the necessary receipts as proof of purchase. The customs official Mr. BG ********** demanded that I pay a duty of Rs. 25,600 which was around 36.6% of the cost of the kayak. I was aware that there is a Rs. 35,000 duty free limit that applied to indian citizens returning from abroad after a period of 10 days or more. In lieu of that rule I should have been asked to pay a duty of 36.6% on the excess amount of Rs. 35, 000, which works out to Rs. 9,000 approx. However, the customs official insisted that I had to pay 36.6% of the entire amount claiming that the duty free allowance did not apply to sporting equipment. I found this extremely ridiculous as this allowance is applicable for mundane stuff like TVs, A/Cs, washing machines but not for sporting equipment. My arguments proved futile as the gentleman at customs threatened to impound the boat.
Mr. ********** then said that I could pay him Rs. 8000 and he would let me take my boat. His suggestion was that since this was "sporting equipment" he was making special allowances for me. I knew very well that this was basically a bribe because I asked if he would give me a receipt for the same to which he replied in the negative. It was 5am in the morning and after a 20 hr flight I didn't have the stomach for a lengthy argument. I had already spent more than 30 minutes trying to reason with him and I am ashamed to say that I took the easier route and paid him the money.
I have written about this in the kayaking community and according to the rules I should have been granted the 35k duty free allowance. I regret my decision to bribe this official and as guilty as I am for coughing up this bribe I intend to raise the matter with Lokayuta. It was wrong on my part to have paid the bribe and I will accept whatever punishment is due as long as the Mr. ********** is found equally culpable in the matter.
I am writing to this community to seek advice on whether the course of action that I am about to take is the right one and is there anything else that I should to do to ensure that Mr. ********** gets his due. Please feel free to contact me at **********.*****@gmail.com
Posted on : September 02, 2012 | Views : Via : Online
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