New Delhi: India's Customs wing will now now move ahead with its drive to unearth illegally imported general aviation aircraft, as it alleges, without impediments. In separate hearings, both the Delhi and Kolkata High Courts turned down appeals by three corporate bodies, Mumbai-headquartered Global Vectra Helicorp Pvt Ltd, Bangalore-based Taneja Aerospace and Kolkata-based Dove Airlines of Usha Martin to have their seized aircraft released.
The three corporate entities had refused to pay provisional bonds and bank guarantees asked for by Customs for conditional release of their aircraft and had approached the Delhi and Kolkata HCs for relief. After hearing their writ petitions both the Courts dismissed the petitions, however, and instructed the companies to abide by the investigative agency's instructions till its probe was complete.
In a drive initiated a month or so ago, the customs department began seizing aircraft it said were imported under false declarations.
Global Vectra has found four of its helicopters seized, two each at Delhi and Mumbai, while Taneja and Dove have both found their Cessna jets taken into custody by the Preventive wing of the Commissionerate of Delhi Customs.
The Customs department began their crackdown a little more than a month back seizing aircraft of various top notch corporate entities. It claimed that these aircraft had been imported under the Non-Scheduled Operator (passenger) scheme, though they were being used for private purposes. Under this procedure, companies can evade payment of huge duties.
Any import of aircraft under the NSO (passenger) category mandates that these aircraft be available for the general public for non-scheduled and charter flights and prohibits use of these aircraft for personal use.
According to industry sources, nearly 250 private jets may have been brought into the country over the last two years through this route and then diverted for private use.