Socialite Sheetal Mafatlal, president of Mafatlal Luxury, was remanded to judicial custody till June 12 by a court here Monday, a day after she was arrested for carrying diamond and gold jewellery whose true value she allegedly didn't disclose to customs officials to evade duty of around Rs.3 million.
Mafatlal was detained at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport Saturday and later arrested Sunday under sections of the Indian Customs Act. She was brought to the court of metropolitan magistrate Monday afternoon.
Her lawyer Satish Maneshinde, terming the arrest as an outcome of "vendetta by some disgruntled elements", said as per legal precedents if the value of goods on which duty is evaded is less than Rs.3 million then the offence is a bailable one.
He told mediapersons that despite this, Mafatlal was detained and subsequently arrested by the customs department.
She is likely to move the court with a bail application.
President of Mafatlal Luxury and a non-resident Indian, Mafatlal was arrested late Sunday by the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Mumbai customs after she was found to be carrying undisclosed gold, diamond jewellery and other high-end accessories worth an estimated Rs.5.50 million.
Coming to his wife's rescue, her husband, industrialist Atulya Mafatlal said since she is an NRI, these (Customs) laws are not applicable to her.
He said her wife was on a brief visit to India and was planning to take back the jewellery to Britain.
"To the best of our knowledge, the jewellery is worth around Rs. 5.1 million," he told mediapersons outside the court when his wife was brought there in the afternoon.
The socialite was earlier detained late Saturday after de-boarding a British Airways flight from London and walked past the green channel at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
AIU sleuths, who had been tipped off about her arrival, accosted Sheetal outside the green channel.
They insisted on checking her baggage and came across the large quantity of valuables. The contents included several diamond-studded gold bangles, pendants, chains, necklaces and other items.
When they asked for bills of purchase for the items, she failed to provide the same, nor could she give satisfactory reply to how she crossed the green channel.
The AIU took charge of her valuables, detained her and summoned a valuer to evaluate the jewellery.
Prior to embarking in London, she had falsely declared her valuables to be worth around Rs.3 million.
After the valuables were evaluated and found to be in excess value, Mafatlal was formally arrested and charged under Customs Act Sec.135 pertaining to evasion of duty.
If convicted, this could attract a maximum punishment of seven years imprisonment.