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Customs cop it

New Delhi, March 21: The Supreme Court today slammed police and customs officials for the 1993 Bombay blasts while expressing concern at the growing terrorist menace and asking the Centre to ensure safety of the people.

Some customs and police officials have been convicted of abetting the blasts by accepting bribes to facilitate the landing of arms and explosives on the coasts and their transport.

“Unfortunately, in the present case, the police officers themselves have taken active part in smuggling and transportation of arms and explosives in Bombay,” the two-judge bench said.

It said customs officials have a duty to prevent smuggling. “They are entrusted with powers of search and seizure and conduct of spot investigations. But when the officer of customs enters into or acquiesces in any agreement to abstain from doing so or permits, conceals or connives at any act whereby any fraudulent import is affected, it can have a disastrous effect on the country’s security,” the court said.

“It is shattering to notice that all grades of customs officers, including the commissioners of customs, played an active role as members of the conspiracy and implemented the plan.”

The bench said the Bombay blasts woke the country to the reality that smuggling with the connivance of officials takes place along the Indian coastline irrespective of the laws and safeguards provided because of the officials’ lack of ethics.