The All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) has condemned the harassment of jewellers by government officials in the pre-Diwali-festival period. The GJC said in a press release that across states, there have been several incidents of police (including Railway Protection Force), Income Tax officials and GST officials conducting illegal raids on jewellers, especially the small and medium sized players. There have been complaints, the GJC release, that officials have sought bribes.
The GJC said these incidents were made more painful by the fact that jewellers were trying to grapple with low sales during the festive season.
The GJC has launched a Twitter hashtag #GJCagainst #harassment of jewellers to provide small and medium jewellers with a simple way of registering cases where they can report harassment by government officials.
Small town jewellers from Nagpur, Bhusawal, Itarsi and Kandwa regions of Maharashtra amongst others, who buy from the wholesale markets such as Zaveri Bazaar in Mumbai, have complained that they have been harassed in trains enroute while they were heading to their respective towns and cities. According to local jewellers, six raids have been conducted in the Thane district of Maharashtra in the last few days. There were also complaints of harassment by legal metrology officials in Hyderabad.
According to the release, on October 27, a jewellery consignment from Mumbai to Bhopal was allegedly confiscated at Itarsi at 4 a.m., even though the consignment had proper documentation. The jeweller alleged harassment by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials. The goods were reportedly not released even after repeated follow-ups with GST, RPF and Income Tax officials.
The GJC said that one jeweller complained of an incident where the police reportedly tore the delivery challans and bills and then called GST officials to take action against the jeweller. The goods were sent via a small logistic company since the bigger ones are not able to cater to the remote locations.
GJC Chairman Nitin Khandelwal said, “As the apex domestic council, we at GJC, denounce and condemn illegal action by government officials on the eve of festival, especially at a time when the gems & jewellery sector is grappling with lower than expected sales (a dip of 10 percent as compared to the last festive season), depressed economic conditions and poor consumer sentiment.”
He added, “Due to this, there is a constant fear of government officials in the jewellery industry. The Union Finance Minister had assured us during the GST adoption process, that under no circumstances would jewellers be subjected to harassment of any kind! As the gem & jewellery industry is trying to get organised and become compliant, small and medium sized jewellers are being deliberately targeted unnecessarily and we are witnessing no ease of doing business. “
Khandelwal went on to say, “Since officials cannot visit shops, they are harassing jewellers at different places during transit, even though jewellers have been following procedures. We also request the government to issue clear-cut procedures for goods in transit and circulate these across all departments such as GST, police, RPF, DGGSTI and Income Tax. If such incidents continue, the GJC will have to decide a course of action wherein all jewellers represent against such uncalled for and unnecessary harassment.”