New Delhi: In a scathing indictment of custom officials of all levels, the Supreme Court Thursday said that but for their complicity, the perpetrators of 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts would not have been able to smuggle the weapons under their conspiracy to bomb the city.
Recounting the series of incidents pointing to the involvement of custom officers at all level in shady deals, a bench of Justice P.Sathasivam and Justice B.S.Chauhan said: "It will not be an overstatement to state that if not for the help of the customs officials, they (the conspirators) would not be in a position to smuggle the weapons required for the said blasts."
"It is shattering to notice that all grades of customs officers, including the commissioners of customs, played an active role as members of conspiracy and implemented the plan," the court said.
"Every kind of smuggling activity is devastating to the economy, but the smuggling of dangerous arms and ammunitions causes wreckage not only to the economy but also to people's lives," the court said pronouncing its verdict on cross appeals by the convicted and the Maharashtra government in the blasts case.
"A rationally structured and effective customs department is the need of the hour in order to curtail illegal imports which can have frightening ramifications upon the nation's economy and citizens' security. Corruption among public servants indicates a failure of our system where pursuit of personal gratification subdues public interest," the court said.
The occurrence of Mumbai blasts, the court said, "brings us to the reality that such incidents take place along the Indian coastline irrespective of the numerous laws and safeguards provided due to the lack of moral ethics and misconduct on the part of the officials".
Customs being a significant source of government revenue, the court said. "The officers of customs department must perform their respective duties honestly and diligently. Any act or omission on their part can have devastating consequences."