The All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC) has condemned harassment of jewellers by Government officials in the pre-festival period. Several incidents across States have come to light wherein the police (including RPF), Income Tax officials and GST officials have conducted illegal raids on jewellers, especially the small and medium sized players, and caused mental torture and harassment at a time when jewellers are grappling with low sales during the festive season. There have been complaints that the officials are indulging in nepotism and bribes.
GJC has launched hashtag #GJCagainst #harassment of jewellers Twitter handles 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, 6 raids have been conducted in Thane district of Maharashtra in the last few days. Also, Hyderabad market is going through harassments from legal metrology department.
On October 27, 2018, a jewellery consignment from Mumbai to Bhopal was allegedly confiscated at Itarsi at 4AM, even though the consignment had proper documentation. The jeweller has alleged that here is clear harassment by the RPF by confiscating the goods and also not releasing the same even after repeated follow ups with GST officials, RPF and Income Tax officials. In fact, one jeweller has complained of a shocking incident that the police tore the delivery challans and bills and then called the GST officials to take action on the jeweller. The goods were sent via a small logistic company since the bigger ones are not able to cater to the remote locations. These small logistical firms create numerous employment opportunities and enable a smooth flow in demand and supply.
Nitin Khandelwal, Chairman, GJC, 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 per cent as compared to last festive season), depressed economic conditions and poor consumer sentiment. It is very sad that even after doing a complaint and systematic business, a jeweller is treated like a fraud in the eyes of police / Govt officials. Due to this, there is a constant fear in the Jewellery industry towards the Government officials. Union Finance Minister had assured us during the GST adoption process, that under no circumstances will Inspector Raaj be levied nor will jewellers be subjected to harassment of any kind! As the gem and jewellery industry is trying to get organized and become compliant, small and medium sized jewellers are being deliberately targeted unnecessarily and we are witnessing no ease of business. Since officials cannot visit shops, they are harassing at different places during transit even though jewellers have been following due procedures. We also request the Government to issue a final SOP / Process of the goods in transit and circulate across all the departments such as GST, Police, RPF, DGGSTI, Income Tax etc. If such incidents continue, GJC will have to decide a course of action wherein all jewellers represents against such uncalled for and unnecessary harassment.” He added, “With #JewellersAgainstHarassment on Twitter we, at GJC, want to unite and empower all jewellers from across India to register their individual cases of harassment. We urge all jewellers to use the digital platforms to shame the corrupt officials.”