The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Centre speaks up for waiver

New Delhi, Aug. 19 (PTI): The government today told Delhi High Court that the Rs 1.13-crore duty exemption on the Ferrari gifted to Sachin Tendulkar was a policy decision that has been “blown out of proportion” even as another petition questioned the logic behind the concession.

The court fixed September 23 as the date for hearing the public interest litigation that challenged the duty exemption on the car that Fiat gifted to the cricketer.

When the matter came up for hearing today, additional solicitor general K.K. Sud said it was a policy decision of the government and “things have unnecessarily been blown out of proportion”. Sud argued that cricket “is a game in which we are doing well and let’s not discourage players”.

Sud also informed the court that a fresh petition on the issue raising similar questions had been filed and would be listed for hearing soon.

“Since the respondent (Tendulkar) has not been served with the notice, the matter has to be adjourned,” a bench of Chief Justice B.C. Patel and Justice A.K. Sikri said.

At the outset, amicus curiae Arjun Bhandari submitted that it was not a subject that concerned Tendulkar alone. The entire issue of duty exemption under the Customs Act has to be examined, he said.

“Let us go through the records and see who all have been given duty exemption in the last three years under Section 25(2) of the act.”

Such exemptions have resulted in a huge revenue loss to the exchequer, he added, contending that the moot question was that of transparency.

“There has to be transparency and uniformity and no arbitrary decision should be taken,” Bhandari said.

The bench referred to media reports that Fiat has shown its willingness to pay the customs duty on behalf of the master batsman.

Tendulkar got the Ferrari-360 Modeno on August 9 after the finance ministry waived the 120 per cent import duty.

The car was transported to India by an Air France flight from Paris. The car was gifted to the star after he equalled the late Sir Don Bradman’s tally of 29 Test centuries.

Formula One driver Michael Schumacher presented the car on behalf of Fiat to Tendulkar when the two met last year at Silverstone, England.

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