A Reference Library for Customs, Excise, Goods & Services Tax Officers and Tax Payers

Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax - An Overview *


Central Excise, Customs and Service Tax employees are concerned with the collection, administration and policy formulation of indirect taxes in India, i.e. central excise duty, customs duty and service tax. Central Excise duty is a tax on the act of manufacture or production of goods. To levy Central Excise duty, it is necessary that a new article shall come into existence as a result of the manufacturing activity. Excise is collected on the goods manufactured or produced at the time of their removal from the factory for administrative convenience. On the other hand customs duty is a tax on the goods imported into or exported out of the country. Customs duty is levied on the goods at the rates specified and the taxable event is the import into or export from India. In fact customs officers control the economic frontiers of the country both in the factual and the figurative sense. Service tax is collected by the specified service providers from the beneficiaries of that service and is then paid to the Government. In addition these officers do border control services by regulating the import and export of goods and services in and out of the country. They work under the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) constituted under the Central Boards of Revenue Act, 1963 (54 of 1963) in the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance. Presently there are three classes of employees, i.e. Group ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’.

Directorates under CBEC

The Central Board of Excise and Customs is assisted in its functions by the following Directorates:

Other Field Formations

Zones of Customs, Central Excise, Customs (Preventive) and Service Tax: There are 23 zones of Central Excise & Customs, 18 zones of Customs & Customs (Preventive) and 4 zones of Service Tax spread across the country. These zones are headed by the Principal Chief Commissioners or the Chief Commissioners.

Commissionerates of Central Excise, Customs, Customs (Preventive), Service Tax, Appeals and Audit: There are 119 Central Excise & Customs Commissionerates performing executive functions predominantly concerning to collection of central excise duty. Some of these Commissionerates also deal with customs and anti-smuggling work. There are 60 Commissionerates of Customs and Customs (Preventive) implementing the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962 and the allied acts, which includes levy and collection of customs duties, surveillance of coastal and land borders to prevent smuggling activities. In addition there are 22 Service Tax Commissionerates, 45 Audit Commissionerates and 60 Appeals Commissionerates apart from 5 Large Tax Payer Units. These Commissionerates are headed by the Principal Commissioners or the Commissioners.

Major Statutes Enforced

A customs or excise officer is required to administer many Central Laws and Statutes. Some of the more important statutes to implement/enforce include:

S. No. Name of the Statute
1. The Customs Act, 1962
2. The Central Excise Act, 1944
3. The Customs Tariff Act, 1975
4. The Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985
5. The Central Board of Revenue Act, 1962
6. The Provisional Collection of Taxes Act, 1931
7. The Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992
8. The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999
9. The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002
10. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985
11. The Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988
12. The Smuggling and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act, 1975
13. The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940
14. The Drug and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954
15. The Arms Act, 1959
16. The Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958
17. The Trade Marks Act, 1999
18. The Patents Act, 1970
19. The Designs Act, 2000
20. The Copyright Act, 1957
21. The Territorial Waters (Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic Zones ) Act, 1976
22. The Agricultural Produce (CESS) Act, 1940
23. The Agricultural Produce (Marketing & Grading) Act, 1937
24. Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904
25. The Information Technology Act, 2000
26. The Standards of Weights and Measures Act, 1976
27. The Essential Commodities Act, 1958
28. The Bureau of Indian Standard Act, 1986
29. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
30. The Export (Quality Control & Inspection) Act, 1963
31. The Motor Vehicle Act, 1988
32. The Environment Protection Act, 1986
33. The Wild Life Protection Act, 1972
34. The Forest Conservation Act, 1980
35. The Indian Forest Act, 1927
36. The Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act6, 1973
37. The Livestock Importation Act, 1968
38. The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972
39. The Coal Mines (Conservation & Development) Act, 1974
40. The Indian Ports Act, 1908
41. The Major Port Trusts Act, 1963
42. The Coast Guard Act, 1978
43. The Indian Merchant Shipping Act, 1958
44. The Coasting Vessels Act, 1838
45. The Indian Light House Act, 1927
46. The Atomic Energy Act, 1962
47. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954
48. The Insecticide Act, 1968
49. The Cinematograph Act, 1952
50. The Indian Post Office Act, 1898
51. The Stamps Act, 1899
52. The Indian Telegraph Act, 1882
53. The Wireless Communication Act, 1933
54. The Coir Industries Act, 1953
55. The Court Fees Act, 1970
56. The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
57. The Indian Penal Code, 1860
58. The Destructive Insects and Pests Act, 1914
59. The Income Tax Act, 1961
60. The Indian Coffee Act, 1942
61. The Indian Cotton Cess Act, 1923
62. The Indian Explosives Act, 1884
63. The Iron One Mines and Manganese Ore Mines and Chrome Ore Mines Labour Welfare Cess Act, 1976
64. The Mineral Products (Additional Duties of Excise & Customs) Act, 1951
65. Petroleum Act, 1933
66. The Procedure Cess Act, 1966
67. The Rubber Act, 1947
68. The Tea Act, 1953

International Conventions

Indian Customs as a member of the World Customs Organization is required to enforce the provisions of many International Conventions. Some WCO Conventions to which India has acceded are:

S. No. Name of the Convention
1. The Customs Convention on temporary importation of scientific equipments - 9th March, 1971
2. The Customs Convention on temporary importation of pedagogic material - 4th December, 1973
3. The Kyoto Convention, 1974 - 18th October, 1976
4. The Nairobi Convention - 9th June, 1977
5. The Harmonized System Convention - 23rd June, 1986
6. The Customs Convention concerning facilities for importation of goods for display or use at exhibitions, fairs, meetings etc. - 20th June, 1988
7. The Nairobi Convention - 20th June, 1988
8. The ATA Convention - 5th July, 1989
9. The Agreement on Customs Valuation - 30th December, 1994
10. The Johannesburg Convention - 23rd June, 2005
11. The Revised Kyoto Convention - Nov 2005
12. The CITES: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

Recruitment and Selection

Selection to the Group ‘A’ service (IRS) is through the Civil Services Examination conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) through a three-stage combined selection process (a preliminary and a main written examination followed by interview/personality test) common for all the Group ‘A’ posts (IAS, IFS, IPS, etc.) called the Civil Services Examination.

Recruitment to most of the Group ‘B’ service is conducted by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) through a three-stage selection process namely the Combined Graduate Level Examination. Minimum physical standards are also prescribed for each category of posts.

Group ‘C’ employees are also recruited by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) through separate competitive examinations conducted on an yearly basis.

Selection to Group ‘D’ posts were being done locally at the Commissionerate level. Sixth Central Pay Commission (SCPC) had recommended to stop this recruitment and to upgrade all the existing Group ‘D’ employees to Group ‘C’. This proposal has also been accepted by the Governemnt.

Pay Band & Grade Pay

Name of Post Pay Band Grade Pay Recruitment
Chairman, CBEC 80,000/- (Fixed) - Deputation/ Absorption
Member, CBEC 80,000/- (Fixed) - Deputation/ Absorption
Principal Chief Commissioner/ Principal Director General 80,000/- (Fixed) - Promotion
Chief Commissioner/ Director General  HAG+ - Promotion
Principal Commissioner/ Principal Additional Director General HAG - Promotion
Commissioner/ Additional Director General/ Joint Secretary PB 4 Rs. 10,000/- Promotion
Additional Commissioner/ Additional Director/ Director PB 4 Rs. 8,700/- Promotion
Joint Commissioner/ Joint Director/ Deputy Secretary/ Sr PPS PB 3 Rs. 7,600/- Promotion
Deputy Commissioner/ Deputy Director/ Under Secretary/ PPS  PB 3 Rs. 6,600/- Promotion
Assistant Commissioner/ Assistant Director /CAO PB 3 Rs. 5,400/- Direct/ Promotion
Superintendent/ Appraiser/ Section Officer 
(4 Years Service)
PB 2 Rs. 5,400/- Spl. Grade
Superintendent/ Appraiser/ SPS/ Section Officer PB 2 Rs. 4,800/- Promotion
Inspector of Central Excise/ Preventive Officer/ Examiner/ PS/ AO)  PB 2 Rs. 4,600/- Direct/ Promotion
Executive Assistant/ Steno Gr.I PB 2 Rs. 4,200/- Promotion
Tax Assistant/ Steno Gr.II  PB 1 Rs. 2,400/- Promotion
LDC PB 1 Rs. 1,900/- Direct
Multi Tasking Staff PB 1 Rs. 1,800/- Direct

PB 1 = Rs. 5,200/- - 20,200/-
PB 2 = Rs. 9,300/- - 34,800/-
PB 3 = Rs. 15,600/- - 39,100/-
PB 4 = Rs. 37,400/- - 67,000/-
HAG = Rs. 67,000/- - 79,000/-
HAG+ = Rs. 75,500/- - 80.000/-
All the posts carry the usual DA, HRA, TA, etc.

Sanctioned Strength of IRS

Sanctioned Strength of IRS Officers as on 18-12-2013

Name of Post Sanctioned Strength
Chairman, CBEC 1
Member, CBEC 6
Principal Chief Commissioner/ Principal Director General 14
Chief Commissioner/ Director General 38
Principal Commissioner/ Principal Additional Director General/ Joint Secretary 100
Commissioner/ Additional Director General/ Joint Secretary 340
Additional/ Joint Commissioner/ Additional/ Joint Director 932
Deputy Commissioner/ Deputy Director 801
Assistant Commissioner/ Assistant Director 1249
(excluding 2118 temporary AC Posts)

Induction and Training

Indian Revenue Service (IRS) Officer Trainees (Probetioners) undergo a 3 month foundational training with their fellow officers from the All India Services and other Central Services (Group ‘A’) at the Lal Bahadur National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) Mussoorie (Uttarakhand). This is followed by a 15 month rigorous professional training at the National Academy of Customs, Excise and Narcotics (NACEN), Faridabad or Mumbai, where they are intensively trained in principles, concepts and advances in Management, Taxation, Public Policy and Law. Departmental examinations are also conducted by NACEN for the assessment of their suitability.

All other officers, i.e., in the Group 'B' and 'C' cadres, are given on the job training and induction course at the Regional Centers of NACEN once they are appointed at various Commissionerates of Customs, Central Excise or Service Tax. Departmental examinations, under an approved syllabus and schedule, are also held on a half yearly basis before these officers are confirmed in their respective service.

Promotion Prospects

The officers joining in Group ‘A’ are posted as Assistant Commissioner of Customs, Central Excise or Service Tax, as the case may be. They get promoted upto the level of Principal Chief Commissioner/ Principal Director General. The post of Member and Chairman of the CBEC are now ex-cadre posts and appointments to these posts are done on a selection basis and not on promotion.

The officers in Group ‘B’ (non-Gazetted) are posted as Inspector Central Excise, Preventive Officer or Examiner. They get their promotion to the next level Group ‘B’ (Gazetted), i.e. Superintendent of Central Excise, Superintendent of Customs or Appraiser, as the case may be. Promotion to Group 'B' (Gazetted) post is purely on the basis of seniority and fitness. The next higher post for all these three grades is the Assistant Commissioner in Group ‘A’.

Similarly, in Group ‘C’ entry level officer is the Tax Assistant (TA) and the next higher level here is the Executive Assistant (EA). Tax Assistants are promoted to the post of Inspector Central Excise, Preventive Officer or Examiner, as per their option, considering the seniority and merit. Departmental Examinations, under an approved syllabus  and schedule, are conducted for promotion from these posts on a regular basis by the NACEN.

Deputation Postings

The officers of the Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax are also deputed to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Special Economic Zones (SEZ), International Airports, etc. apart from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of External Affairs.


In this era of liberalization and globalization, this department also has started mordernising itself to meet the challenges arising out of multi-dimensional expansion of the world economy and has adapted itself to the changing contours of the economy. The actual focus is on the creation of a trade friendly service which can combat the evils of tax-evasion and smuggling in a painless manner. Though the pay and allowances in these services are lower compared to the private sector, the sense of satisfaction comes from directly contributing to the development of the country, as 50% of the Government revenue comes from indirect taxes collected by these officers. The service needs bright, young, honest, and dedicated people with a high sense of morality, integrity and love for the nation who can readily adapt to challenges in India's economic framework in the process of liberalization and globalization.
* The details provided here is intended to guide the new recruits only.

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