In February, Kalanithi Maran's Sun group paid a fine of Rs 60 cr for import violation

Kalanithi Maran

A month before the CBI raid on M K Stalin's residence which triggered a political controversy, another member of the DMK's first family quietly coughed up a Rs 60 crore-penalty for import violation.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) had found post-import violation by a Bombardier aircraft belonging to the Sun group owned by M Karunanidhi's grand-nephew Kalanithi Maran.

In February, the DRI had served notice to Sun for violation of import obligations under the category of non-scheduled passenger service aircraft. The group had claimed duty exemption under this category, which is meant to provide services on non-chartered routes. However, the aircraft was used by the directors of the group, which has interests from media to civil aviation, effectively using it as private jet.

Interestingly, the business group did not even challenge the show cause notice served by the DRI, and paid the penalty immediately, sources said. The group had the option of challenging the DRI's claim and taking the matter to the adjudicating authority.

The import of the aircraft by the Sun group had become controversial in 2007 when then opposition leader and the present Chief Minister

J Jayalalithaa said the import was a "symbol of high corruption" by the DMK government headed by Karunanidhi.

She had also alleged that the Sun group had, in a record 23 days, managed to get clearance from the Centre for purchasing the aircraft at a cost Rs 236.94 crore.

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