Faceless Assessment- Clarifications on the Issues raised by Stakeholders: CBIC
Circular No. 55/2020-Customs
All Principal Chief Commissioners/ Chief Commissioners of Customs/ Customs (Preventive),
All Principal Chief Commissioners/ Chief Commissioners of Customs & Central tax,
All Principal Commissioners/ Commissioners of Customs/ Customs (Preventive),
All Principal Commissioners/ Commissioners of Customs & Central tax,
All Principal Director Generals/ Director Generals under CBIC.
Subject: Faceless Assessment- Clarifications on the Issues raised by Stakeholders- reg.
Kind reference is invited to Board’s earlier Circulars and Instruction on the subject of Faceless Assessment.
2. After a series of consultations with various stakeholders, such as the NACs, trade and industry associations, it is felt that there is a need to further enhance the efficiency of the process involved in Faceless Assessment. With a view to achieve this objective, certain key areas, which require immediate attention, have been identified and the following instructions/ guidelines are being hereby issued so as to smoothen the process of Faceless Assessment by the field formations.
a) Re-assessment in accordance with the Principles of Natural Justice: Despite several Board instructions on the issue, it has been observed that many a time the importers are not being afforded an opportunity of being heard before re-assessment of the goods. Such a practice is not in conformity with the provisions of law and needs to be accordingly discontinued, forthwith. It is emphasized that the process of reassessment must be in accordance with the provisions of Sub Sections (4) and (5) of Section 17 of Customs Act, 1962. In order to lend clarity and streamline this process, the procedure to be adopted by the FAGs for carrying out re-assessment, wherever required, is delineated as follows:
i. During verification of the assessment, if there are reasons to believe that the self-assessment is not done correctly, or additional details are required to complete the verification, necessary clarifications should be sought from the importer/Customs Broker through the query module of ICES.
ii. While raising the query, all the aspects of additional information required for finalization should be covered and clearly worded. Also, as far as possible, multiple queries need to be avoided and all the information may be solicited in one-go and not in a piece-meal manner. Further, in the event that the officer concerned is required to raise a second (or more) query/ies on the same Bill of Entry, approval shall be taken from the respective Additional Commissioner/Joint Commissioner, with full justification thereof. Needless to say, this approval should be given only as an exception and not as a matter of routine. Pr. Commissioners / Commissioners across the NACs may ensure that minimal queries are raised by the concerned FAGs and may devise their own mechanism to regularly monitor the same, in a manner that needless and repeated queries, which have the effect of delaying assessments, are avoided.
iii. Based on the reply to the query, the FAG may either accept the self-assessment or proceed to re-assess the Bill of Entry.
iv. While re-assessing the Bill of Entry, it must be ensured that the importer is given an opportunity to justify the self-assessment either in writing or in person through Video Conferencing. The importer, can, if he so desires, waive off this requirement in writing. No re-assessment, which would lead to change in classification, valuation and/or applicability of notification, etc, should be carried out unless an opportunity is provided to the importer for presenting his/her viewpoint.
v. Where the assessing officer re-assesses the Bill of Entry and where the importer does not accept the change in assessment in writing, through the query module in ICES, the proper officer shall mandatorily issue a speaking order without delay and in accordance with Sub-Section (5) of Section 17 of Customs Act, 1962.