MUMBAI: Former India hockey goalkeeper and assistant commissioner of customs, M.R. Negi, who is being probed by the department for suspected negligence in clearing a consignment of 200 blank gun without No Objection Certificate /licence in 2015, does not have any case against him and is being framed, claimed sources.
The Customs sources pointed out that at the time the consignment was cleared, in 2015, there was no requirement for the production of any NOC or licence for the clearance of blank gun.
It was only in 2016, that a requirement was included in the rules via amendment, necessitating a NOC/licence for the clearance of blank gun.
It all started when four different agencies — the Special Intelligence and Investigation Branch (SIIB), Central Intelligence Unit, Directorate of Vigilance and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence — busted smuggling rackets in the air cargo complex in May 2017, raising questions about the effectiveness of the monitoring system.
The SIIB had last week sent Mr Negi a letter seeking explanation, alleging that facts had been manipulated and presented to principal commissioner of customs (Import) Devendra Singh, due to which they were cleared without him approving the same.
However, documents available with this newspaper state that the blank gun were cleared only after a Hyderabad-based company had declared it to be absolutely safe and that the guns were not eligible to come under the rules. Highly placed sources confirmed that Mr Singh had in a meeting asked officers to clear the blank gun in the presence of various senior officials and the importer himself.
“The letter to Negi by SIIB states that Mr Singh was briefed (that) the guns were of plastic and not metals. How is it possible when the bill of entry of the consignment clearly stated that these were metal guns?” asked a top official.
He further said, “If they were misdeclared then why wasn’t action taken? Why are these several questions being raised after a year when the consignments were cleared in March last year?”
Mr Devendra Singh, said, “The probe is on and the facts are being checked. Nothing can be said as of now as various angles are being looked into. Unlike a few reports, it isn’t true that Mr Negi will be suspended.”