Sachin Tendulkar's Ferrari 360 Modena, gifted to him by the Fiat group after he passed Don Bradman's tally of 29 centuries last year, continues to attract controversy after it received exemption from the duty normally levied on foreign-made cars imported into India.

The car arrived in Bombay on Friday after the duty of US$ 245,000 was waived on the US$-163,000-dollar Ferrari upon a request by Tendulkar to that effect.

But the decision has drawn flak from various quarters, surprising considering Tendulkar's normally high status in public esteem. "Sachin has earned enough for five generations, he needs no financial considerations," said Pramod Navalkar, a leader of the Shiv Sena party.

A survey conducted by the Indian Express newspaper revealed sharp public criticism as well. "They do this for Sachin and then spend hours checking the baggage of hockey players who have also brought laurels to the country," said reader Vijay Kalantri. "Would hockey star Dhanraj Pillay have got the same treatment? Sachin can afford to pay and he should have."

Another letter said: "The duty would have gone a long way in alleviating suffering of poor farmers who sweat in the fields to make our country self-sufficient in food."

The chief minister of Maharashtra, Sushilkumar Shinde, defended the decision, however, saying: "Sachin has brought name and fame to India, we must accept that contribution by such gestures." Tendulkar himself declined to comment on the isue.