Rivals blamed for Sheetal's arrest

Socialite remanded to judicial custody till June 12 for carrying undisclosed jewellery

Her lawyer Satish Maneshinde alleged her arrest to be a "vendetta" by the opponents. Sheetal had 51 items in her possession including bangles, chains and rings and the most valuable jewellery was worth Rs 2.5 lakh, he said. "The jewellery was given to her by her father-in-law and were used ones. According to a Supreme Court ruling, if the value of the gold is less than Rs one crore and the duty which is evaded is less than Rs 30 lakh, then the offence is bailable," he said.

Sheetal Mafatlal, president of Mafatlal Luxury and wife of industrialist Atulya Mafatlal was, on Monday, remanded to judicial custody by a metropolitan court at Esplanade till June 12. She was formally arrested on Sunday for carrying diamond and gold jewellery whose true value she,  allegedly, did not disclose to customs officials to evade duty of around Rs 30 lakh.

 Sheetal moved for bail but the hearing on the application could not be completed during the day. The court is likely to hear the bail plea on Tuesday.

She was detained on Saturday at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport by customs officials, after she arrived here from London. The socialite had gone to London and reportedly purchased diamonds and gold jewellery worth Rs 1.5 crore during her stay there. She had also paid the duties and VAT on her purchases at the Hithrow airport of London and returned to Mumbai by a British Airways flight.

However, after alighting from the flight, she allegedly did not disclose the true value of her purchases to the customs officials at the Mumbai airport to avoid paying of customs duty, which would have come around Rs 30 lakh.

As she walked past the green channel, the customs officials intercepted her. A thorough check of her baggage revealed the large quantity of valuables inside, which were valued at around Rs 51 lakh.

When the officials from the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of the customs asked her for bills of purchases, she failed to provide the same. She could neither give satisfactory reply as to how she crossed the green channel without disclosing the valuables.

Prior to boarding the flight  in London, she had falsely declared her valuables to be worth around Rs 30 lakh.

Mafatlal has been charged under section 135 of the Customs Act pertaining to evasion of duty. If convicted, this could attract a maximum punishment of seven years imprisonment.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that her industrialist family is preparing to make payments of the customs duty, although she will have to do lot of explaining.

Sheetal's husband Atulya came to her rescue and said since she is an NRI, the customs laws are not applicable to her. He said his wife was on a brief visit to India and was planning to take back the jewellery to Britain.
DHNS/ Agencies

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