Mumbai: The preventive unit of the Bangalore customs commissionerate seized an aircraft owned by Bangalore-based GMR Group at HAL Airport on Monday night, extending the seizure of last week's seizure of two aircraft belonging to Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries to other corporates.
The Bangalore customs seized a Rs111-crore Dassault Falcon 2000 EX EASY aircraft, bearing registration number VT-VLN and belonging to GMR Aviation, for alleged violation of import rules to evade duty.
The aircraft, which came from Mumbai and landed at HAL Airport, was scheduled to depart to Istanbul the next day.
he authorities also seized aircraft belonging to the Oberois, India Bulls and has brought under scanner over 250 such planes acquired since 2007 to detect duty evasion.
Anybody found guilty of acquiring aircraft with duty exemption under Non-scheduled Operator Permit Scheme could be levied penalty up to five times the duty evasion, a finance ministry official said.
The eight-seater aircraft has all the amenities of a luxury plane. Last week, the customs department in Mumbai seized two aircraft - Airbus A-319 corporate jet and a 22-seater Falcon 900 - of Mukesh Ambani's RIL for alleged violation of import rules.
Government rules allow regular and charter airlines to import planes at low rates of duty for commercial use, while importing for personal use invites almost double this amount. To avoid this, planes for private use are often brought in under the charter category.
"It's like registering a car as a taxi, getting duty concessions, and then using it for personal purposes. Then, it should attract higher duty," sources said.
Sources said the aircraft was seized because it was allegedly being used exclusively by the GMR Group.
The action was taken under Section 111 (d) of the Customs Act, 1962, which deals with confiscation of goods. If found guilty, the importer could have to pay a fine up to five times the duty evaded, plus a penalty.
For its release from the customs, the GMR Group has to pay a penalty of either Rs28 crore or execute a bond along with a bank guarantee.