This is one kind of attention that the swish set might indeed fight shy of.
Celebrities who travelled to South Africa for the Indian Premier League (IPL) were on the watch of Customs officials. The department continues to keep vigil on those travelling to England for the T20 World Cup.
No senior Customs authority was, however, willing to go on record on the special vigil.
Other officials said the department suspected that celebrities could try to bring valuables from abroad and slip out of the green channel without declaring the valuables.
Returning from London, Mafatlal too tried to pass through the green channel when Customs officials recovered the jewellery from her.
Mafatlal’s counsel, Satish Maneshinde, said in court that none of the seized items was new or purchased recently. He said gold ornaments were personal usage items and exempted from Customs duty.
A Customs official said on anonymity that they had kept a watch on high-profile fliers going for the IPL and T20 World Cup matches.
“We ensured nobody carried cash above permissible limit,” the official said. The limit is $5,000 and local currency up to Rs 5,000. “But, as many celebrities have accounts with international banks, they withdraw money at foreign destinations,” the official said.
Local Customs authorities have alerted their UK counterparts to inform them if anybody claims Value Added Tax (VAT) refund for purchase of goods there. Maneshinde said Mafatlal had claimed £800 of VAT refund on purchase of general items worth £ 4,000 to £ 5,000. “This (the purchase amount) is hardly anything,” he said.