23. Air Intelligence by Income Tax Department

Valuables such as cash, jewellery, diamonds and other precious materials are often carried by air from one place to another within the country; also contraband items and foreign currency are transported to and from other countries. The Customs Department and the Enforcement Directorate are concerned with smuggling, evasion of customs duty and violation of foreign exchange regulations; the police is concerned with security issues; the Income Tax Department is concerned with the involvement of black money or unaccounted funds in such activities.

On receiving any information, the department has to take quick action so that the person carrying such items does not slip away. For meeting this challenge, the Income Tax Department has also set up its offices, known as Air Intelligence Units, at the airports in major cities, i.e. Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, etc. These units function under the investigation wing of the department. These units work in close co-ordination with other enforcement agencies like Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) manning the airport security, the Customs Department, Enforcement Directorate, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, airport administration and the police. This co-ordination helps in obtaining useful information about domestic an’4 international travellers. Information about a passenger carrying huge cash, diamonds, valuables, etc. or any other incriminating material from one destination to another for  facilitating tax evasion by a person or a group of persons may be received from these authorities or from a secret tip or from an informant. On receipt of such information, the officials of the air intelligence unit interrogate the passenger at the airport itself to ascertain the identity of the person or the group responsible for transporting undisclosed cash, valuables or incriminating materials. Based on this initial interrogation, they decide whether they need to make further enquiries and take appropriate investigative action like search or survey, if warranted. The action may be taken by the unit at the airport from which the passenger is boarding the flight or at the destination of the passenger.


In a number of cases, passengers intercepted at the airports were found to be carrying substantial amounts of cash, the source of which could not be explained. These amounts were later admitted as unaccounted income and tax was paid on them.


Sometimes, incriminating material and unaccounted funds, valuables etc. are sent through unaccompanied cargo. There are also courier agencies which handle parcels using their own aircraft. The air intelligence units, therefore, monitor and investigate cargo traffic in association with other authorities like the police and the customs department.

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