Socialite and President of Mafatlal Luxury, Sheetal Mafatlal, was detained by the Customs Department on Sunday for not declaring diamond-studded bangles worth Rs 45 lakh.
The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of the Customs Department detained Mafatlal at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport around 12.45 am, after she returned from London by a British Airways flight, BA-139.
Mafatlal had put her baggage for screening and was passing through the green channel with a purse when the Customs officials intercepted her. Only a person who does not have dutiable goods can walk through the green channel.
On checking her purse, the officials found the diamond-studded bangles. The jewellery involves duty of 35.7 per cent.
Senior officials including Additional Commissioner of Customs, Airport, Hussain Baig, were tight-lipped about the incident.
“We are yet to take a decision (on her arrest),” he said.
Customs officials said Mafatlal was questioned at the AIU office and as the investigations were still on, the authorities had not reached a decision on her arrest.
A Customs official, requesting anonymity, said Mafatlal had purchased the jewellery in the UK and claimed the Value Added Tax (VAT) refund there saying she would be paying duty in India.
Customs officials here got information about Mafatlal’s jewellery from their counterparts in London as she had claimed VAT refund there.
India and the UK have Double Taxation Avoidance agreement according to which a person has to pay tax in either country. This way, if somebody claims VAT refund in the UK, he/she has to pay duty on the goods purchased there back in India.
The Customs official said the government-appointed valuation experts were called to determine the value of the diamond jewellery.
However, during questioning, Mafatlal told the Customs officials that she didn’t purchase the bangles in the UK and that they belonged to her.
Non-declaration of dutiable goods while returning to the country amounts to smuggling.
Neither Mafatlal nor her husband, Atulya, was available for comment.