The government has seized more private aircraft of companies and is investigating the acquisition of around 250 such planes brought into the country by various parties since 2007 in their attempt to track down cases of duty evasion. According to reports, the aircraft seized include those belonging to such companies as GMR, the Oberois and India Bulls.
According to finance ministry sources, any party found guilty of acquiring aircraft with duty exemption under the Non-Scheduled Operator (NSO) permit scheme may be levied with a penalty of up to five times the size of the duty evasion. Reports suggest as many as six aircraft were seized this month, though they were later released against bank guarantees and bonds in relation to the cost of the aircraft.
The duty evasion by private aircraft had first come to light with the seizure of two aircraft belonging to Reliance Industries.
Aircraft of other corporate entities such as Tata, DLF, Escorts, Kingfisher and Punj Lloyd are now reported to be the target of government scrutiny.
Sources in the Customs department say some business houses had leveraged the duty exemption announced last year on import of aircraft meant for chartered flights.
Over 65 of the 86 NSO operators are now reported to be under the scanner.