Faulty e-seals for locking containers put exporters in a tizzy
Customs Dept asks shippers to refrain from using seals supplied by Italy’s Leghorn Group
Self-sealing of cargo containers by exporters with tamperproof electronic seal to check pilferage and other fraudulent practices has run into trouble as the RFID seals supplied by a European manufacturer has failed to meet the security requirements set by the government.
From October last year, the government had made it mandatory for exporters to use electronic seals to lock a container for shipment, replacing the earlier system of locking it with a bottle seal. Such eseals are imported.
According to the Revenue Department, certain European manufacturers of electronic seal are supplying the seals which can be scanned from a distance without being in a locked condition. The Customs Department acknowledged that the RFID seals supplied by Italy’s Leghorn Group does not complying with the security requirements. The Italian firm — the biggest supplier of e-seals to India — has supplied to three vendors — IB Track Solutions Pvt Ltd, Great Eastern ID Tech Pvt Ltd and Perfect RFID Technologies Ltd — who in turn sold them to exporters.
“Exporters are advised to refrain from using the electronic seals procured from the above three e-seal vendors until further orders,” a public notice issued by one of the Customs Commissionerate said, a copy of which Business Line has reviewed.
According to specifications set by the government, the electronic seal should be a RFID tamper proof one-time bolt seal, bearing a unique serial number, which has to be procured by the exporters at their own cost for use in self-sealing.
The Customs Department advisory to exporters, custom brokers and trade to stop using e-seals supplied by Leghorn Group through its Indian vendors, comes after Justice Jainarayan Patel, a former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, called for an investigation into the fiasco by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. “As this particular seal (supplied by Leghorn Group) can be scanned at a distance of few metres without being in locked condition, it must have and will invite in future, many fraudulent practices which are not good for the country,” Justice Patel wrote in a October 9 letter to Revenue Secretary, Hasmukh Adhia.
“I request you to look into this matter and investigate the facts by DRI about the concerns raised by me and brought to your kind attention. An independent investigation agency such as CBI be also directed to examine the issue as it may lead to serious national security problems as these containers may be used for importing/exporting contrabands and explosives,” Justice Patel wrote in the letter, a copy of which was marked to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
The incident comes at a time when the government is implementing many tradefriendly measures to improve India’s ranking in the ‘ease of doing’ business. Exporters say that the purpose of e-seal is to create a safe passage for cargo without the risk of tampering.
Some companies, according to a trade source, have got into this business by importing/supplying cheaper e-seals, which, without getting locked enable reading.