Mukesh Ambani vs IAS: Your question reminds me a case of Ambani Group that was brought before me in 2001 after the massive Gujarat earthquake.
I was posted as the Deputy Commissioner of Customs in Air Cargo Complex (ACC), Ahmedabad. After the earthquake, there were massive damage in Reliance Petrochemical plant in Jamnagar district of Gujarat. Reliance engaged two cargo planes to import refractory material on urgent basis.
The matter was so urgent that one of their Vice President came to ACC with his high level team to expedite clearance.
According to the Customs laws, the customs duty has to be discharged on the total value of goods including the freight and insurance amount (called CIF price). However, in case of import by Air, the amount of freight can’t be more than 20% of the value of the imported goods. It means that if the freight is more than 20%, it should be taken as 20% for the purpose of calculation of customs duties.
In this case Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) filed the Bills of Entry (Import document) for the consolidated value of the invoice which was inclusive for freight. The freight was much more than 20% of the value. They have taken the 20% of the freight value without having any documentary evidence.
I told them that I can’t allow the clearance unless I am provided with the correct value of freight with appropriate document. The difference of duty by including the full fright was almost Rs one crore more. I thought that they would bring some pressure from the top for expediting the clearance. However, to my surprise, the VP went out for a few minutes and came back with the decision that they would pay duty at the full rate and claim refunds later after getting all the documents. They immediately paid the excess Rs one Crore Customs duty and cleared the consignment.
A government officer on the spot is always more powerful because he represents the State at that point of time. No one can usurp his power as far as his action is in accordance with law.
Hence, in my opinion, an IAS (or IPS, IRS) officer is more powerful than any businessmen in this country including Mr Mukesh Ambani.
This question was answered by Awdhesh Singh, A Senior IRS officer, Bestselling Author and Speaker