Satellite phone smuggling; govt asks Customs to be vigilant

"Instances have come to the notice that satellite phones are being brought into India via baggage and being used by anti-national elements, which poses a serious security threat," the Central Board of Excise and Customs said in a communication to its officials.
A satellite phone can be used in India only after it gets a licence from the Department of Telecommunications (DOT).

At present, the use of specific types of INMARSAT terminal is permitted by the DOT, while the use of 'Thuraya' satellite phones in India without the specific permission of the DoT is illegal.
Taking "serious note of the unauthorised use" of satellite phones in the country after being brought in as passenger baggage, the board said passengers importing satellite telephone as baggage shall be required to declare the same to Customs on arrival.

"Satellite phones imported for use in India without the valid permission of the DoT may be detained and appropriate action in accordance with the law may be initiated," it said.
It has also been decided by the Home Ministry that display boards will be put up at all the airports regarding the obligation of travellers to declare to Customs authorities whether they are carrying a satellite phone.

Asking Customs officials at the airports to remain vigilant, the board said the instructions should be "strictly complied with and any lapse will be viewed seriously".
The DoT has, however, permitted teams participating in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games to use satellite phones in the country.

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