Barely 24 hours before the final, a storm brew over the World Cup trophy at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, when customs officials detained it over non-payment of duty.
While customs officials claimed they have detained the original trophy, which is to be handed out to the winner of today's match, International Cricket Control (ICC) officials say they have the original, and the one captured by the customs department is a perpetual trophy, usually used for promotional exercises.
The drama began when customs officials intercepted Australian national Emile Felicity Waite, who was trying to pass through the green channel without declaring the trophy, which was nestled in a wooden box she was carrying.
The green channel is the clearance pathway for international travellers who are not carrying goods that attract any customs duty.
Waite had flown into the city on a 9W 255 flight from Colombo a little after midnight on Friday. The Australian could not produce a bill of entry or any relevant documents needed for importing the Cup. She was allowed to leave after officials recorded her statement and took the trophy from her in the wee hours yesterday.
A team of customs officers, under Additional Commissioner of Customs K Premchand, inspected the trophy before it was stashed away in the detention warehouse at the airport.
A team of senior officials deliberated throughout the day before asking the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to pay Rs 15 lakh as customs duty for the trophy.
Premchand refused to comment on the development. But insiders informed MiD DAY that customs officials locked horns with the BCCI and stuck to their rulebook.
While the BCCI functionaries were in touch with senior members of the Central Board of Excise and Customs to ensure the release of the trophy in time for the presentation ceremony today, the latter insisted that it couldn't be released unless the duty was paid.
The drama stretched out until late last evening, as the customs team did not receive any instructions from higher-ups in the Customs Board, or the duty for the trophy.
However, Colin Gibson, ICC Head of Media and Communications, and Media Director of Cricket World Cup 2011, said in an email, "This is a perpetual trophy which we use for marketing purposes and it is at Mumbai airport en route from Colombo." BCCI President Ratnakar Shetty did not respond to calls or text messages.
In February, MID DAY had reported how the customs department, which comes under the purview of the Ministry of Finance, had withdrawn the cricketing board's privilege of importing sports goods and equipment without paying import duty with immediate effect.
A team of senior officials deliberated throughout the day before asking the BCCI to pay this amount as customs duty for the trophy.
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