HISTORY OF CHENNAI CENTRAL EXCISE
In earlier part of
nineteenth century the British tax collection system as
far as commodity taxes are concerned were governed by many
Regulations and some Enactments.
Prior to 1889, the Salt, Abkari and Customs departments
were together. However by the Madras Salt Act 1889, Salt
and Abkari were organised underthe Madras Salt department
and it functioned from the Custom House at Madras.In more
ways than one, in the Salt and Abkari department which
stood separated from the Customs but functioned from the
Custom House, Madras, the initial Excise administration in
Madras was initiated.
The Salt department, under the Collector of Salt Revenue,
Madras had three divisions- Northern, Central and
Southern. Northern division consisted of Cocanada,
Nellore, Massulipattinam and Chicacole. Central Division
consisted of Chengleput, Bellary, Arcot and Cuddalore.
Southern division consisted of sub-divisions like
Nagapattinam, Tinnavelley, Trichinapally, and Calicut
(Names as found in old records have been mentioned).
Besides Salt and Abkari revenue, the Salt department also
administered all the Customs out ports in the coastal
areas and land customs stations.
The year 1924 crossed an important milestone when Salt
revenue was separated from Salt and Abkari department of
Madras Presidency (till this date Excise duty on liquor
remained with the State Government a fact we all know).
A separate Salt department was carved out with Collector
of Salt Revenue as the head. This department also looked
after the Customs out ports. The Salt department located
its Offices in various places like Triplicane, Cathedral
Road and finally Sterling Road. There were 13 Customs
Outports in the Madras Presidency, at Cuddalore,
Nagapattinam, Portonovo, Vizagapatam, Baindoor, Gangoli,
Cannanore, Moolky, Badagara, Ponnani, Allepey, Quilon and
The Salt Amendment Act transferred the Madras Salt
Department to the administrative control of Government of
India in 1926. This was a major milestone in the
centralisation of Modern day Central Excise Department.
In 1932, Rules were framed for the recruitment of
Personnel for the Salt department. New uniforms were
also prescribed during this period.
In 1930 Silver was made an excisable commodity. In 1931
Provisional Collection of Taxes Act was legislated. In
1934 more commodities were brought under the Tax net for
instance Iron and Steel, Matches, Sugar and Mechanical
Lighters. Also a Tariff Act was legislated in 1934.
Elaborate procedures, rules and regulations were framed
for assessment, levy and collection of duty on the new
excisable commodities like matches and sugar.
During this time the Central Board of Revenue was
constituted in 1934. Collector of Salt Revenue, Madras
looked after three fold functions i.e. administration of
Salt Act under the Central Board of Revenue;
administration of Excise on matches, sugar and other
commodities under the provincial governments and
administration of Customs Outports and Land Customs
Now that many commodities came under the tax net the need
for streamlining the system was felt acutely by the
colonial government. The British constituted King's
Committee to study the feasibility of centralising the
administration of Central Excises under the Central Board
Mr. F.C. KING, was deputed by the British Government to
study the feasibility of the Government of India taking
over the administration of Central Excises from the
Provincial Governments. Hitherto the respective
Provincial Governments administered the revenue department
and the collection of tax from the various commodities.
This report is of great
historical importance as it gave broad insight into the
then existing system and the guidelines to be followed to
centralise the administration of Central Excise under the
Government of India.
The Madras Salt Department at that time had the
administration of land Customs (and outports). The report
had noted that the staff employed by the Madras
Government for the purposes of the administration of the
Central Excises was of the lowest grade (the report
desired the upgradation of these posts in Madras
Presidency when centrally taken over). Mr. Greenfield,
then Collector of Salt Revenue, Madras, with whom Mr.King
had consulted, had informed that Inspectors in every
circle of his jurisdiction except Tuticorin circle are
available to supervise the administration of Central
Excises if entrusted to his Department.
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