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Tamil Nadu Authority for Advance Ruling: T.G. Venkatesh, Additional Commissioner, and K. Latha, Joint Commissioner held that concerning vessel support services provided to foreign vessels, the service provided falls under export of services as per provisions of the Integrated Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 (IGST Act) as the place of supply is outside India.

Facts of the case

The applicant is engaged in providing support services related to vessel management to its group company, New Shipping Kaisha Ltd. (Japan).

An application was filed by the applicant, under Section 97 of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017 before the Tamil Nadu Authority for Advance Ruling to seek an Advance Ruling on the following:

  • Whether the vessel support services provided by the applicant to its group company outside India qualify as “Export of Services” under GST?

Analysis and Decision

The Bench stated that supply of services under Section 2(6) of the IGST Act includes the supply of any service which is provided outside India, the payment received by the supplier is in foreign currency, and the supplier and recipient are not merely the establishment of a distinct person. Therefore, the Bench opined that to determine whether the supply amounts to the export of service, the place of supply is to be determined.

Further, on a joint reading of Sections 13(3) and 13(6) of the IGST Act, the Bench observed that the statutes prescribe the location in the taxable territory where any support services requiring the physical availability of the vessel under management is supplied, then the place of supply is the location in the taxable territory in respect of that voyage of the vessel.

Therefore, the Bench held the following:

  • The vessel support services provided about foreign vessels sailing to other countries outside India, fall under export of services as per Section 2(6) of the IGST Act, as the place of supply in such cases is entirely outside India.
  • Vessels calling out at Port of India, then the place of supply in respect of that vessel is in India as per Section 13(6) of the IGST Act and the services rendered are not export of services.

[NSK Ship Management Pvt Ltd, 2022 SCC OnLine TN AAR-GST 7, decided on 30.06.2022]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge Bench comprising Uday Umesh Lalit, S. Ravindra Bhat*, Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha, JJ., reversed NCDRC’s findings where it had relied on third-party DGFT Guidelines to interpret the date of ‘despatch/shipment’ in the Single Buyer Exposure Policy of the respondent, and thereby deny the appellant’s claim.

The respondent had treated the date on which loading commenced as the date of despatch/shipment’ to reject the appellant’s insurance claim. Deciding the case in favour of the appellant, the Court held,

“The term ‘despatch’ contained in the policy implied ‘completion’ of handing over of possession of the goods to the first carrier (the ship), and not the date on which the loading ‘commenced’ such an interpretation would give rise to an absurdity.”

Factual Matrix

The appellant was an exporter of fish meat and fish oil, who had obtained an insurance cover of ₹ 2.45 crores for foreign buyers’ failure to pay for goods exported from Export Credit Guarantee Corporation Ltd. (ECGC), a government company (under the control of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Union Government). ECGC provides a range of credit risk insurance cover to exporters.

The vessel (Tiger Mango Voyage 62) set sail on 15-12-2012. The Bill of Lading was prepared on 19-12-2012, with a line specifying the date of ‘onboard’ (i.e., date on which vessel commenced loading the goods in question on board) as 13-12-2012. The vessel delivered the goods on 22-01-2013, however, the overseas buyer defaulted on payment which gave rise to the appellant’s claim lodged with ECGC on 14-02-2013.

ECGC rejected the appellant’s claim stating that since the date of ‘despatch/shipment’ was not clearly defined in the policy, reliance was to be placed on the definition contained in the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Guidelines. As per which, for containerized cargo, the date of ‘despatch/shipment’ was to be interpreted as the date of ‘Onboard Bill of Lading’, which was 13-12-2012, i.e., a day prior to the effective date of the Policy, i.e., 14-12-2012. Therefore, ECGC reasoned that the appellant was not entitled to the claim amount.

The appellant, feeling aggrieved, complained of deficiency of service, and approached the NCDRC for compensation. By the impugned order, NCDRC upheld the rationale of the ECGC and rejected the appellant’s claim.

Analysis and Conclusions

Common Business Sense

Rejecting the interpretation of the terms ‘despatch/shipment’ as construed by ECGC, the Court opined that in event of confusion the disputed terms need to be interpreted in a common business sense. The Court stated,

“The date of loading goods onto the vessel, which commenced one day prior to the effective date of the policy, is not as significant as the date on which the foreign buyer failed to pay for the goods exported, which was well within the coverage period of the Policy.”

Reliance was placed by the Court on Peacock Plywood (P) Ltd. v. Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., (2006) 12 SCC 673, to hold that while interpreting insurance contracts, the risks sought to be covered must also be kept in mind. Further, the Court opined that the date of loading the goods onto the vessel was immaterial to the purpose for which the policy was taken by the appellant. The Court noted,

“A plain reading of the policy in question demonstrates that it was taken to protect against failure of the foreign buyer in paying the Indian exporter for goods exported. It was not a policy taken to cover in-transit insurance, and the cause of action triggering the claim arose much later, i.e., on 14.02.2013, well within the coverage of the policy.”

Interpretation of Despatch/Shipment

The Court opined that on harmoniously construing the documents of the policy, it is, in fact, the date on the Bill of Lading, and not the Mate’s Receipt/date of shipment which ought to be considered as the date of ‘despatch/shipment’, for the Bill of Lading is the legal document conferring title and possession of the goods to the carrier. Therefore, the Court held that reliance on the DGFT Guidelines to disallow the claim of the appellant was not good in law.

Further, the Court observed that even if the third-party DGFT Guidelines were to be applied, it would not favour the ECGC, as a plain reading of provision 9.12 of the guidelines shows that the date on the Bill of Lading has to be considered as the date of despatch/shipment.

Conclusion

In the backdrop of above, the impugned order of the NCDRC was set aside; the appellant’s complaint was consequently allowed. ECGC was directed to pay the claim amount of Rs. 1,96,38,400/- crores to the appellant, with interest at the rate of 9% p.a.

[Haris Marine Products v. Export Credit Guarantee Corpn. Ltd., 2022 SCC OnLine SC 509, decided on 25-04-2022]


*Judgment by: Justice S. Ravindra Bhat


Appearance by:

For the Appellant: Ms Anjana Prakash, Senior Advocate

For the ECGC: Mr Rajnish Kumar Jha, Advocate


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together


Experts CornerTarun Jain (Tax Practitioner)

  1. Introduction

It is a well-known fact that there is an innate complexity in fiscal law and policy. It has been commented upon by many Judges, much less the experience of ordinary citizens, that it is not easy to decipher the fine text of the tax law. Such policy choices in fiscal laws, however, are there for specific reasons. Larger underlying objectives and competing priorities are often the reason for the crisscross in tax law and policy. A fairly recent debate upon the scope of appellate remedies under the anti-dumping duty (ADD) law is one such illustration which explains the reasons for controversies in the fiscal space. The issue at hand is an innocuous question regarding the jurisdiction of the Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) and whether there is a provision to file an appeal in ADD dispute in a particular situation. In order to appreciate the controversy some background is necessary. It relates to the peculiar scheme of how the circumstances warranting the levy (or non-levy) of ADD are appreciated under the administrative and legal framework in India which will also explain the reason for the controversy.

  1. Legal framework for levy of anti-dumping duty in India

ADD is administered under the overall customs law framework in India. The Customs Act, 1962 (1962 Act) provides for the legal framework governing import and export of goods in India. However, the 1962 Act does not carry the rate of tax leviable as customs duty. The classification and rate of tax is provided for under the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 (1975 Act). The 1975 Act is also a repository of a host of other taxes which are imposed at the time of import or export of goods. For illustration, safeguard duty, countervailing duty, etc. are certain other illustrations of taxes imposed under the overall customs law framework. However, conceptually ADD is not a customs duty, the latter being levied upon the act of importation of goods in a particular country. Instead ADD is understood as a trade protection measure which is deployed by the importing country in order to deal with the pernicious activity of dumping of goods by another country in the importing country.

The levy of ADD is now internationally aligned in terms of the legal framework mooted by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as codified in terms of the “Agreement on Implementation of Article 6 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994[1].” This agreement sets out the international consensus and standards on the ingredients to be satisfied for levy of ADD besides the procedural steps and safeguards which are to be observed by the importing country for the levy of ADD. India as a member of the WTO has adopted this framework on ADD both in letter and spirit. In fact the Supreme Court of India has categorically declared that the levy of ADD under the Indian law must be in due compliance of India’s commitment to agree and abide by the WTO Agreement on ADD.[2]

The legal framework in India relating to ADD is set out in Section 9-A of the 1975 Act. This provision is a standalone code governing the levy of ADD and is supplemented by three other provisions in the 1975 Act; (a) Section 9-AA, which provides for refund of ADD in certain cases; (b) Section 9-B, which specifies certain situations in which ADD is not to be levied; and (c) Section 9-C, which provides for appeal to CESTAT in ADD cases. The present controversy relates to the interpretation of this Section 9-C. However, we shall come back to it after a brief appreciation of the administrative position in which ADD is levied in India.

  1. Administrative scheme for levy of anti-dumping duty in India

The Government of India had adopted a peculiar scheme for levy of ADD. Ordinarily the Ministry of Finance (MoF) is the sole repository for the levy of taxes enacted by the Union Parliament. For illustration, income tax, wealth tax, service tax, central excise duty, customs duty, etc. are the various union taxes which have been implemented and enforced by the MoF. The levy of ADD is also the responsibility of the MoF. However, unlike other taxes where the MoF is this sole Judge and authority on the executive and administrative framework of all union taxes, such is not the case in ADD. Instead, an inquiry as to whether ADD should be levied or not is undertaken by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoC) of the Government of India.

The Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR), as a department of the MoC, undertakes the investigation if there is dumping and whether ADD is required to be levied in a given situation. This investigation is undertaken in terms of the Customs Tariff (Identification, Assessment and Collection of Anti-Dumping Duty on Dumped Articles and for Determination of Injury) Rules, 1995 (1995 Rules). These 1995 Rules supplement the legal framework for levy of ADD by laying out the detailed procedural framework to be followed by the DGTR during the investigation, including rights and obligations of the affected parties.

What is notable in the aforesaid scheme is that the principal agency empowered to carry out the investigation (i.e. MoC), however, does not have the authority to implement the levy of ADD. The MoC, in a situation in which it considers that levy of ADD is warranted after a technical evaluation of the prescribed variable, can only make a recommendation to the MoF to such effect. It is thereafter the MoF which is the final arbiter as regards the decision whether or not to levy ADD. This is not a mere procedural mechanism whereby the MoC would recommend and the MoF would routinely impose ADD. Instead, it is the MoF which independently evaluates, having regard to other factors which it finds relevant to adjudge the recommendations of the MoC and thereafter arrives at a conclusion whether or not the levy of ADD is warranted. In other words, the MoF can approve or reject the recommendations of MoC. There are multiple illustrations with many such frequent instances, where the MoF disagrees with the MoC and refuses to levy ADD despite a positive recommendation of the MOC to such effect.

  1. Contextualising the issue

It is in the aforesaid legal and administrative framework that the issue arises. Under law as also under the administrative framework, neither any parameter is set out as regards the obligation of MoF while considering the recommendations of MoC nor any enumeration of factors has been made which must be considered by the MoF in order to decide whether or not levy of ADD is warranted in a given fact pattern. Resultantly, the MoF only publishes its conclusion upon review of the recommendations of the MoC. In the event the MoF agrees with the recommendations of the MoC, it will issue a notification under the relevant legal provisions providing for levy of ADD. In such circumstances, the recommendations and the detailed findings of the MoC reflect the rational for the levy of ADD. The affected parties can rely upon such recommendations and findings in order to canvas appropriate legal action in case of prejudice being caused through such levy. In a reverse situation i.e. where the MoF disagrees with the recommendation of the MoC and chooses not to levy any ADD, in such a case the MoF publishes its conclusions regarding the disagreement. However, as a matter of convention, the MoF does not set out the reasons as to why it disagrees with the recommendations and findings of the MoC. It is at this stage that the issue arises because a decision not to levy ADD can also cause prejudice to certain persons.

The precise issue to be answered is whether there is a right of appeal in the event MoF rejects the recommendations of the MoC and decides not to levy ADD.

  1. Appreciating the appellate mechanism for anti-dumping duty

This takes us to legal framework relating to CESTAT as the Appellate Tribunal. Though CESTAT is constituted under the 1962 Act, it is also the Appellate Tribunal for the purposes of ADD. Section 129-B of the 1962 Act provides for the remedy of appeal before the CESTAT in respect of a matters arising in relation to customs law. There is, however, a distinct provision for appeal in relation to ADD. The difference between the scope of two provisions is stark and accordingly warrants a closer review.

Section 129-B of the 1962 Act provides for the appellate remedy against “any order” passed by the specified officer of customs.[3] This is, however, not the case with Section 9-C of the 1975 Act which provides for an appeal remedy before CESTAT in relation to the ADD. In this situation, the appeal provision permits an appeal only “against an order of determination or review” in relation to ADD.[4]

In the aforesaid background, a question has arisen as to whether an appeal can be filed before the CESTAT in a situation where the MoC recommends for levy of ADD but the MoF decides to the contrary and does not levy ADD. Before that, one may ask, why does the issue of filing of appeal even arises when no ADD is levied. This is an interesting question, the response to which lies in appreciating the scheme of ADD. There are multiple interested parties in an ADD contest. As noted above, ADD is a trade protection measure invoked by an importing country the situation of dumping is not conducive to its interests. This is because dumping hurts the domestic industry of the importing country engaged in the manufacture or trade of such goods which have been dumped from abroad. Thus, in a situation where the MoC has concluded and recommended upon the levy of ADD, it implies that there is indeed dumping of goods being carried out in India by the exporters of another country which is creating injury to the domestic industry of India. Thus, in a situation where the MoF disagrees with the recommendation made by the MoC to levy ADD, the view of MoF prejudices the interests of the domestic industry of India insofar as no ADD would be imposed despite the conclusion by the MoC that such ADD is warranted in order to protect the interests of the domestic industry. In such a circumstance, therefore, it is obvious to expect that the domestic industry would be aggrieved by the decision of MoF not to impose ADD and may like to claim legal remedies against the refusal of the MoF to impose ADD. This takes us to the conjoint questions, whether CESTAT has jurisdiction in such a situation and whether the domestic industry (being an aggrieved party) can successfully prosecute an appeal against the MoF’s refusal to levy ADD.

  1. Stock-taking the rival contentions and the current position

There are certain well-settled legal aspects regarding right to appeal; (a) an appeal is a creature of statute; (b) there is no inherent right to file an appeal; (c) a remedy by way of appeal must be specifically provided by law; and (d) no appeal is maintainable in the absence of a specific law providing for an appeal remedy.[5]

Applying this standard, a view has arisen that there is no right of appeal in a situation where the MoF refuses to levy ADD. The proponents of this view indicate two broad reasons to substantiate their position; (a) Section 9-C of the 1975 Act which provides the appellate remedy is limited to a situation where there is an “order of determination or review” in relation to ADD whereas no such order exists in wake of MoF’s refusal to accede to the views of the MoC; and (b) Section 9-C of the 1975 Act, which is specific to ADD, is at contrast with the appeal provision relating to customs duty under the 1962 Act. Under the latter, any person aggrieved has the right to file an appeal against any order passed by the specified customs officer. The contrast between the two provisions is crucial and determinative because this implies that a person being aggrieved is irrelevant under the 1975 Act, and also there is no right of appeal against every order of MoF. Accordingly it is argued that there is no legislative intent to provide for an appeal against MoF’s refusal to impose ADD.

Conversely, those carrying the opposite view contend that the refusal of the MoF to impose ADD despite a positive recommendation of the MoC warrants a judicial review and the appeal mechanism cannot be made defunct by the MoF’s refusal to provide reasons for its disagreement with the detailed findings of the MoC. The proponents of this view highlight that the constitutional scheme neither permits any wing of the Government to act unilaterally or arbitrarily so as to trample upon the legal rights of the citizens nor can the government’s decisions affect the citizens without being substantiated with valid rationale and adequate reasons to support its decision. On this account it is argued that irrespective of the correctness of the view of the MoF that ADD should not be imposed, the MoF does not have an unbridled discretion and it is obliged to give reasons for its decision not to impose ADD. Such reasons it is further contended, must be also subjected to judicial review as non-levy of ADD (particularly when one wing of the Government has concluded and recommended levy of ADD) has serious consequences and severely prejudices the affected domestic industry.

It is crucial to note that the aforesaid discussion and the rival positions are not a hypothetical or mere academic inquiry and in fact have received judicial advertence. In Jindal Poly Film Ltd. v. Designated Authority[6] the Delhi High Court by way of a detailed order rejected a writ petition (as non-maintainable) against refusal of the MoF to levy ADD being of the view that even in such a situation an appeal was maintainable before the CESTAT.[7] This order of the High Court was premised principally upon the conclusion that the refusal of the MoF to levy ADD also constitutes an “order of determination” and thus appeal is indeed maintainable. This order actually reversed the tide as prior to this delineation by the Delhi High Court, the CESTAT was taking a consistent view that no appeal is maintainable when no ADD is levied by the MoF.[8]

The High Court’s exposition of the statutory provisions, however, appears not to have extinguished the debate. For illustration, the Government continues to hold the view that an order of the MoF refusing to levy ADD cannot be subjected to appeal before the Appellate Tribunal. This view of the Government has been noted by the Appellate Tribunal but only to be rejected.[9] However, at this stage, it is not clear if the Government has accepted the position emanating from the legal exposition of the Delhi High Court or would seek the final view by way of appeal to Supreme Court. Thus, as of date, precarious tranquillity prevails on the lis and the aggrieved domestic industry.

  1. Factoring the policy considerations

It is critical to note that the determination whether or not an appeal lies against the MoF’s decision not to levy ADD does not depend only on the interpretation of Section 9-C of the 1975 Act. Instead, there are multiple policy considerations which are relevant in order to arrive at a balanced position. Some of these are enlisted below:

  • The 1995 Rules provide the statutory framework for the levy of ADD. Of these, Rule 18 is relevant for the purpose of our inquiry. It states that “[t]he Central Government may, within three months of the date of publication of final findings by the designated authority under Rule 17, impose by notification in the Official Gazette, … anti-dumping duty ….” Two aspects of this provision are relevant. First, there is no obligation upon the Central Government to impose ADD as Rule 18 states “may”. The contours of this expression are well settled, especially when contrasted from the expression “shall”, which is also frequently employed[10] in the 1995 Rules. Put differently, there is no obligation upon the Government to impose ADD and instead it is the discretion of the Government to impose a tax. Thus, the necessity for judicial review is doubtful. Second, Rule 18 clearly delineates the position of MoC vis-à-vis MoF. The MoC, acting through the DGTR is referred only as the “designated authority” in the 1995 Rules whereas it is the MoF which acts as the “Central Government” in the setting of Rule 18. Thus, the decision to levy or not to levy the ADD is of the MoF and no legal consequences should arise from the determination and recommendations of the MoC alone.
  • In addition to the aforesaid aspect a critical and noteworthy aspect is that ADD is a tax. Under the constitutional scheme, the judiciary is certainly competent to annul a tax liability or even quash the statutory provision levying a tax. However, it is doubtful if the judiciary can direct the Government to issue a particular notification[11] or levy the tax itself. Equally, levy of tax is policy matter where is generally beyond the judicial prowess, especially in the fiscal realm.[12] In fact, in the very context of ADD, there are decisions to support that levy of ADD is a legislative function.[13]
  • The decision of the Gujarat High Court in Alembic[14] provides an added perspective insofar as it highlights the limited role of MoC and the larger balancing rule of MoF in the context of ADD so as to approve the MoF’s exclusive role by enumerating a host of factors which require appreciation. One of these overwhelming reasons assigned by the High Court to approve independent role and overriding authority of the MoF relates to the finer distinction between the role of MoF and the MoC. According to the High Court, the role of MoC is limited and “specific, to ascertain existence, degree and effect of any alleged dumping and various factors connected therewith”. In comparison, the role of MoF is much wider as it needs to appreciate a “[n]umber of other questions of larger public interest such as possible impact of ADD on other industries, on consumption, on supply, etc. of such articles may not possibly be within the purview of designated authority while carrying out investigation envisaged under the rules”. Hence, the statutory provisions should not be interpreted in a manner which renders MoF to “be oblivious of all such factors and once through mathematical exercise, task of ascertaining extent of dumping and causal injury to the domestic industry is completed, necessarily to such extent, ADD must follow. Any such proposition would be putting the Central Government into too straitjacket a situation wherein on a mere ascertainment of dumping and its impact on domestic industry, the Government in all cases invariably be bound to impose duty irrespective of fact that such imposition may for valid reasons found to be not in public interest”.
  • The decision in Alembic[15] is also relevant from the perspective of the wide-ranging non-legal variables which form the MoF’s zone of consideration while evaluating MoC’s recommendations. In this case the MoF defended non-levy of ADD inter alia citing lack of domestic industry’s capacity to address the local demand, which defence was accepted by the High Court. Courts are clearly not the best forums for adjudication of such economic and financial variables.[16]
  • Also relevant is the perspective that there are inherent differences in scope and approach of judicial review between an appeal remedy before the CESTAT versus a writ petition before the High Court. This is because it is well settled that the appellate forum is obliged to examine validity of appeal and all antecedents to it, including review of all aspects relating to the order challenged before it.[17] This scope of appeal is at contrast with the scope of inquiry in a writ petition wherein the High Court generally has a limited scope to address violation of constitutional rights or legal errors without adverting to disputed questions of facts. Thus, pragmatically there is a significant distinction in the standard of judicial review by CESTAT in appeal vis-à-vis High Court in writ petition. Thus, there is added reason to determine the correct forum to address propriety of MoF’s refusal to levy ADD.
  • In any case, the scheme of appeal before the CESTAT in an ADD dispute is also peculiar. Unlike the provision under the 1962 Act which confers wide powers upon the CESTAT, limited powers are vested in the CESTAT under the 1975 Act in respect of ADD disputes. To elaborate, Section 9-C(4) of the 1975 Act states that “the provisions of sub-sections (1), (2), (5) and (6) of Section 129-C of the Customs Act, 1962 shall apply to the Appellate Tribunal in the discharge of its functions under this Act as they apply to it in the discharge of its functions under the Customs Act, 1962”. Section 129-C of the 1962 Act, however, has clauses (1) to (8). Thus, clauses (7) and (8) of Section 129-C of the 1962 Act do not apply to CESTAT while considering ADD appeals under Section 9-C of the 1975 Act. This has a crucial relevance because clause (7) vests the powers of a civil court in the CESTAT thereby authorising it to pass orders for “(a) discovery and inspection; (b) enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath; (c) compelling the production of books of account and other documents; and (d) issuing commissions”. Clause (8) deems “any proceeding before the Appellate Tribunal … to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of Sections 193 and 228 and for the purpose of Section 196 of the Penal Code”. By exclusion of these clauses (7) and (8), therefore, the 1975 Act has severely restricted the powers and scope of inquiry by the CESTAT. Does this aspect manifest the legislative intent of a limited scope of review by the CESTAT in ADD matters generally?

8. Conclusion

The aforesaid discussion, even though hinged upon the interpretation of statutory provisions governing appeal in ADD matters, reveals the complexities which are inherent in tax policy. Viewed from the judicial perspective, the observations of the Delhi High Court and the CESTAT’s current outlook appear to be a reasonable interpretation to subject MoF’s refusal to levy ADD within the appellate framework. However, examined from the larger policy perspective, many other variables require appreciation in order to arrive at a balanced conclusion which takes into consideration the innate limitations of a judicial review whether to impose a tax, such as the ADD. One would hope that the debate attains a quietude sooner than later, given the larger implications the conclusion has on the role of judiciary in rejudging the government’s decision not to levy a tax.

 


Tarun Jain, Advocate, Supreme Court of India; LLM (Taxation), London School of Economics

[1] Available HERE

[2] Commr. of Customs v. G.M. Exports, (2016) 1 SCC 91.

[3] S. 129-B of the Customs Act, 1962, providing for “appeals to the Appellate Tribunal” inter alia states that “any person aggrieved by any of the following orders may appeal to the Appellate Tribunal against such order ….”

[4] S. 9-C(1) of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975, providing for “appeals” states that “an appeal against the order of determination or review thereof shall lie to the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal constituted under S. 129 of the Customs Act, 1962 (hereinafter referred to as “the Appellate Tribunal”), in respect of the existence, degree and effect of – (i) any subsidy or dumping in relation to import of any article; or (ii) import of any article into India in such increased quantities and under such condition so as to cause or threatening to cause serious injury to domestic industry requiring imposition of safeguard duty in relation to import of that article”.

[5] See generally, Raj Kumar Shivhare v. Directorate of Enforcement, (2010) 4 SCC 772.

[6] 2018 SCC OnLine Del 11395 : (2018) 362 ELT 994.

[7] 2018 SCC Online Del 11395 : (2018) 362 ELT 994.

[8] For illustration, see SI Group India (P) Ltd. v. Designated Authority Anti-Dumping Appeal No. 50456 of 2017, decided by CESTAT, Delhi on 17-8-2017 vide Final Order No. 56445 of 2017, following Panasonic Energy India Co. Ltd. v. Union of India Anti-Dumping Appeal No. 50452 of 2017 decided by CESTAT, Delhi on 20-7-2017 vide Final Order No. 55305 of 2017.

[9] Jubilant Ingrevia Ltd. v. Union of India, Anti-Dumping Appeal No. 50461 of 021, decided by CESTAT, Delhi on 27-10-2021 vide Final Order No. 51988 of 2021. This final order has been followed subsequently by the CESTAT in Assn. of Chloromethanes Manufacturers REGUS v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine CESTAT 2622 and SI Group India (P) Ltd. v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine CESTAT 2623.

[10] For illustration, Rule 4 states that “[i]t shall be the duty of the designated authority, in accordance with these rules, ….” As another illustration, Rule 5 states, “the designated authority shall initiate an investigation to determine the existence, degree and effect of any alleged dumping only upon receipt of a written application by or on behalf of the domestic industry”.

[11] See generally Mangalam Organics Ltd. v. Union of India, (2017) 7 SCC 221.

[12] See generally, Federation of Railway Officers Assn. v. Union of India, (2003) 4 SCC 289 inter alia observing that “[i]n examining a question of this nature where a policy is evolved by the government judicial review thereof is limited. When policy according to which or the purpose for which discretion is to be exercised is clearly expressed in the statute, it cannot be said to be an unrestricted discretion. On matters affecting policy and requiring technical expertise court would leave the matter for decision of those who are qualified to address the issues. Unless the policy or action is inconsistent with the Constitution and the laws or arbitrary or irrational or abuse of the power, the court will not interfere with such matters”.

[13] This aspect, however, is a debatable proposition. For rival positions, see generally, Haridas Exports v. All India Float Glass Manufacturers’ Assn., (2002) 6 SCC 600 and Reliance Industries Ltd. v. Designated Authority, (2006) 10 SCC 368.

[14] Alembic Ltd. v. Union of India, 2011 SCC OnLine Guj 7686.

[15] 2011 SCC OnLine Guj 7686.

[16] See generally, Manohar Lal Sharma v. Narendra Damodardas Modi, (2019) 3 SCC 25.

[17] Kapurchand Shrimal v. CIT, (1981) 4 SCC 317.

Case Briefs

Customs, Excise & Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT): Anil Choudhary (Judicial Member) allowed an appeal which was filed on the ground that in the facts and circumstances and the documents produced, there could not be any doubt about export of finished goods which were lying in stock on the date of debonding.

The counsel submitted that appellant had submitted complete documents for verification namely – copy of ER-I, copy of shipping bill, copy of export promotion invoice, copy of bill of lading. Further, the goods were exported soon after debonding and admittedly duty have been paid on such goods at the time of debonding.

The Tribunal found that the appellant had exported 448 units of handicraft on 30-07-2015, within a week after the date of debonding being 27-07-2015 when only 153 units were lying in stock. Thus, the refund claim have been rejected on presumptions and assumptions that such 153 units may not have been included in the exported units as there has been further production of 448 units on 28 and 29-07-2015. Such presumption was drawn without any adverse finding or any adverse material on record. It was held that the appellant had exported 153 units lying in stock on the date of debonding. Accordingly, the impugned order was set aside. It was further held that appellant was entitled to refund of the duty of Rs.7,22,290/- relying on the Division Bench of this Tribunal in Parle Agro (P) Ltd. v. Commissioner –CGST-2021-TIOL-306-CESTAT-All. It cannot be conclusively proved that they have exported the goods which were lying in stock, at the time of debonding.[Sun Art Exporter v. Commr. Of CGST, 2021 SCC OnLine CESTAT 347, decided on 01-07-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case relating to confiscation of a large quantity of yellow peas imported from China, the 3-judge bench of AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari* and Krishna Murai, JJ has held that the goods in question are to be held liable to absolute confiscation but with a relaxation of allowing reexport, on payment of the necessary redemption fine and subject to the importer discharging other statutory obligations. 

Noticing that the personal interests of the importers who made improper imports are pitted against the interests of national economy and more particularly, the interests of farmers, the Court said, 

“When personal business interests of importers clash with public interest, the former has to, obviously, give way to the latter.” 

Notifications at the core of the Controversy

In March, 2019, the Central Government, in exercise of its power under Section 3 of the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992 (FTDR Act) read with paragraphs 1.02 and 2.01 of the Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020, amended the import policy conditions relating to various items of Chapter 7 of the Indian Trade Classifications (Harmonized System) 2017, Schedule I by way of S.O. Nos. 1478(E), 1479(E), 1480(E) and 1481(E) dated 29.03.2019. These were followed by the trade notice dated 16.04.2019 by the DGFT.

These notifications were earlier challenged were challenged for being in the nature of ‘quantitative restrictions’ under Section 9A of the FTDR Act, which could be only imposed by the Central Government after conducting such enquiry, as is deemed fit, and on being satisfied that the “goods are imported into India in such quantities and under such conditions as to cause or threatens to cause serious injury to domestic industry.”

However, the Supreme Court, in Union of India v. Agricas LLP, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 67, held them valid as they were issued in accordance with the power conferred in the Central Government in terms of sub-section (2) to Section 3 of the FTDR Act. It was also held that the powers of the Central Government by an order imposing restriction on imports under sub-section (2) to Section 3 is not entirely curtailed by Section 9A of the FTDR Act.

Read our detailed report on the Agricus verdict here

9A of FTDR Act does not negate Central Govt’s power to impose restrictions on imports under Section 3(2): SC

Why do the goods in question fall under the ‘prohibited goods’ category?

Sub-section (3) of Section 3 of the FTDR Act applies to the goods in question and, for having been imported under the cover of the interim orders but, contrary to the notifications and the trade notice issued 92 under the FTDR Act and without the requisite licence, these goods shall be deemed to be prohibited goods under Section 11 of the Customs Act; and all the provisions of the Customs Act shall have effect over these goods and their import accordingly.

Further, only the particular restricted quantity of the commodities covered by the said notifications could have been imported and that too, under a licence. Therefore, any import within the cap (like that of 1.5 lakh MTs) under a licence is the import of restricted goods but, every import of goods in excess of the cap so provided by the notifications, is not that of restricted goods but is clearly an import of prohibited goods.

Hence, the goods in question, having been imported in contravention of the notifications dated 29.03.2019 and trade notice dated 16.04.2019; and being of import beyond the permissible quantity and without licence, are ‘prohibited goods’ for the purpose of the Customs Act.

Why are the goods in question liable to absolute confiscation?

The true scope of Section 125 of the Customs Act, 1962 comes into picture to decide this question. The latter part of Section 125 of the Customs Act obligates the release of confiscated goods (i.e., other than prohibited goods) against redemption fine but, the earlier part of this provision makes no such compulsion as regards the prohibited goods; and it is left to the discretion of the Adjudicating Authority that it may give an option for payment of fine in lieu of confiscation. It is innate in this provision that if the Adjudicating Authority does not choose to give such an option, the result would be of absolute confiscation.

In the case at hand, the Adjudicating Authority had given such an option of payment of fine in lieu of confiscation with imposition of penalty whereas the Appellate Authority has found faults in such exercise of discretion and has ordered absolute confiscation with enhancement of the amount of penalty.

However, an authority acting under the Customs Act, when exercising discretion conferred by Section 125 thereof, has to ensure that such exercise is in furtherance of accomplishment of the purpose underlying conferment of such power. The purpose behind leaving such discretion with the Adjudicating Authority in relation to prohibited goods is, obviously, to ensure that all the pros and cons shall be weighed before taking a final decision for release or absolute confiscation of goods.

“It is true that, ordinarily, when a statutory authority is invested with discretion, the same deserves to be left for exercise by that authority but the significant factors in the present case are that the Adjudicating Authority had exercised the discretion in a particular manner without regard to the other alternative available; and the Appellate Authority has found such exercise of discretion by the Adjudicating Authority wholly unjustified.”

In the present case, it was evident that the Adjudicating Authority’s orders were not passed in a proper exercise of discretion. The Adjudicating Authority did not even pause to consider if the other alternative of absolute confiscation was available to it in its discretion as per the first part of Section 125(1) of the Customs Act and proceeded as if it has to give the option of payment of fine in lieu of confiscation.

“Such exercise of discretion by the Adjudicating Authority was more of assumptive and ritualistic nature rather than of a conscious as also cautious adherence to the applicable principles. The Appellate Authority, on the other hand, has stated various reasons as to why the option of absolute confiscation was the only proper exercise of discretion in the present matter.”

Importer’s personal interest versus National Interest

Clearly, in the present case, the personal interests of the importers who made improper imports were pitted against the interests of national economy and more particularly, the interests of farmers. Hence, this factor alone was sufficient to find the direction in which discretion ought to be exercised in these matters.

Hence, the discretion in the cases of present nature, involving far-reaching impact on national economy, cannot be exercised only with reference to the hardship suggested by the importers, who had made such improper imports only for personal gains.

“The imports in question suffer from the vices of breach of law as also lack of bona fide and the only proper exercise of discretion would be of absolute confiscation and ensuring that these tainted goods do not enter Indian markets. Imposition of penalty on such importers; and rather heavier penalty on those who have been able to get some part of goods released is, obviously, warranted.”

The Court, hence, said that

Directions

  • The subject goods are held liable to absolute confiscation but, in continuity with the order dated 18.03.2021 in these appeals, it is provided that if the importer concerned opts for re-export, within another period of two weeks from today, such a prayer for reexport may be granted by the authorities after recovery of the necessary redemption fine and subject to the importer discharging other statutory obligations. If no such option is exercised within two weeks from the date of the order, the goods shall stand confiscated absolutely.
  • The respondent-importers shall pay costs of this litigation to the appellants, quantified at Rs. 2,00,000/- (Rupees two lakhs) each.

“The respondent-importers being responsible for the improper imports as also for the present litigation, apart from other consequences, also deserve to be saddled with heavier costs.”

[Union of India v. Raj Grow Impex LLP,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 429, decided on 17.06.2021]


*Judgment by: Justice Dinesh Maheshwari 

Know Thy Judge | Justice Dinesh Maheshwari

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Ujjal Bhuyan and Abhay Ahuja, JJ., gave a splitting verdict on the constitutionality of Sections 13(8)(b) and 8(2) of the Integrated Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017.

The petitioner, who was engaged in providing marketing and promotional services to customers located outside India had challenged the validity of Sections 13(8)(b) and 8(2) of the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) Act, 2017 contending that these provisions were ultra vires Articles 14, 19, 245, 246, 246A, 269A and 286 of the Constitution and also ultra vires the provisions of the Central Goods and Services Tax  (CGST) Act, 2017, IGST Act, 2017 and Maharashtra Goods and Services Tax (MGST) Act, 2017. The case of the petitioner was that he is a proprietor of a proprietorship firm  Dynatex International having its registered office in Mumbai which was engaged in providing marketing and promotion services to customers located outside India. It was registered as a supplier under the provisions of the CGST Act, 2017.

Grounds for Challenge

  1. The petitioner contended that Section 13(8)(b) of the IGST Act seeks to levy GST on services provided to, used and consumed by recipients located outside India and treating the same as intra-state supply leviable to CGST and MGST which is not only illegal, void, arbitrary and unreasonable but also ultra vires Articles 14, 19(1)(g), 21, 286, 246A, 265, 269A and 300A of the Constitution Section 9 of the CGST Act and the MGST Act.
  2. Though all service providers like the petitioner should be treated in the same manner, service providers like marketing agents, marketing consultants, professional advisers etc. provide similar services. But by virtue of the exception carved out under section 13(8)(b) of the IGST Act, the service rendered by the petitioner despite satisfying all the conditions of section 13(2) read with section 2(6) of the IGST Act would be subject to GST. Therefore, the levy was most unreasonable and arbitrary, thus violative of Article 14.
  3. Article 269A only grants power to the Parliament to frame laws for interstate trade and commerce i.e., for determining inter-state trade or commerce. It does not permit imposition of tax on export of services out of the territory of India by treating the same as a local supply. Hence, section 13(8)(b) of the IGST Act was ultra vires Articles 246A and 269A of the Constitution.
  4. That Article 286(1) provides that no law of a state shall impose or authorize the imposition of a tax on the supply of goods or services or both where such supply takes place outside the state or in the course of import of the goods or services or both into the territory of India or export of goods or services out of the territory of India. Thus no state has authority to levy local tax on export of services. Section 13(8)(b) of the IGST Act had deemed an export to be a local supply. This was violation of Article 286(1).
  5. That section 13(8)(b) of the IGST Act leads to double taxation and more as the same supply would be taxed at the hands of the petitioner and following the destination based principle it would be an import of service from India for the foreign service recipient and would be taxed at his hands in the importing country.

Analysis by the Court

In All India Federation of Tax Practitioners, it was held that service tax is a VAT which in turn is a destination based consumption tax in the sense that it is on commercial activities. It is not a charge on the business but on the consumer and it would logically be leviable only on services provided within the country. Similarly, in Commissioner of Service Tax Vs. SGS India Pvt. Ltd., 2014 (34) STR 554 (Bom.), the High Court had held that if services were rendered to such foreign clients located abroad then such an act can be termed as ‘export of service’ which act does not invite a service tax liability.

Section 13 of the IGST Act deals with place of supply of services where location of supplier or location of recipient is outside India. However, as per the proviso, where the location of the recipient of services is not available in the ordinary course of business, the place of supply shall be the location of the supplier of services. Thus sub-section (2) lays down the general proposition that place of supply of services shall be the location of the recipient of services barring the exceptions carved out in sub-sections (3) to (13). Thus what sub-section (8)(b) says is that in case of supply of services by intermediary the place of supply shall be the location of the supplier of services i.e., the intermediary which is an exception to the general rule as expressed in sub-section (2) of section 13.

The Bench explained, while Article 246A deals with special provision with respect to GST, Article 269A provides for levy and collection of GST in the course of inter-state trade or commerce. Therefore,

“A conjoint reading of the two Articles would show that the Constitution has only empowered Parliament to frame law for levy and collection of GST in the course of inter-state trade or commerce, besides laying down principles for determining place of supply and when such supply of goods or services or both takes place in the course of inter-state trade or commerce. Thus the Constitution did not empower imposition of tax on export of services out of the territory of India by treating the same as a local supply.”

Further, Article 286 lays down restrictions as to imposition of tax on the sale or purchase of goods. Similarly, Article 286(1) imposes an expressed bar that no law of a state shall impose or authorize imposition of a tax on the supply of goods or services or both where such supply takes place in the course of import into or export out of the territory of India. The Bench expressed, though Article 286(2) empowers the Parliament to make laws formulating principles for determining supply of goods or of services or both certainly the same could not be used to foil or thwart the scheme of clause (1).

Noticeably, the petitioner fulfilled the requirement of an intermediary as defined in Section 2(13) of the IGST Act, and all the conditions stipulated in sub-section (6) of Section 2 for a supply of service to be construed as export of service were complied with. The overseas foreign customer of the petitioner fell within the definition of ‘recipient of supply’ in terms of section 2(93) of the CGST Act read with Section 2(14) of the IGST Act. Therefore, it was an ‘export of service’ as defined under section 2(6) of the IGST Act read with Section 13(2) thereof. Hence, Justice Ujjal Bhuyan opined,

“Evidently and there is no dispute that the supply takes place outside the State of Maharashtra and outside India in the course of export. However, what we notice is that section 13(8)(b) of the IGST Act read with section 8(2) of the said Act has created a fiction deeming export of service by an intermediary to be a local supply i.e., an inter-state supply. This is definitely an artificial device created to overcome a constitutional embargo.”

In State of Travancore – Cochin Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court referred to Article 286(1) and held that whatever else may or may not fall within Article 286(1)(b), sales and purchases which themselves occasion the export or the import of the goods, as the case may be, out of or into the territory of India would come within the exemption. Reliance was placed on GVK Industries Ltd., wherein the Supreme Court had held that the Parliament is constitutionally restricted from enacting extra-territorial legislation but such restriction should be made subject to certain exigencies, such as, it should have a real connection to India which should not be illusory or fanciful.

Similarly, in Electronics Corporation of India Limited v. Commissioner of Income Tax, 1989 Supp (2) SCC 642 , it was held that unless a nexus with something in India exists, Parliament would have no competence to make the law. Article 245(1) empowers Parliament to enact law for the whole or any part of the territory of India. The provocation for the law must be found within India itself. Such a law may have extra-territorial operation in order to subserve the object and that object must be related to something in India. It is inconceivable that a law should be made by Parliament in India which has no relationship with anything in India.

Thus, the Bench held that it was apparent that Section 9 of the CGST Act cannot be invoked to levy tax on cross-border transactions i.e., export of services. Likewise from the scheme of the IGST Act, it is evident that the same provides for levy of IGST on inter-state supplies. Import and export of services have been treated as inter-state supplies in terms of Section 7(1) and Section 7(5) of the IGST Act. On the other hand sub-section (2) of Section 8 of the IGST Act provides that where location of the supplier and place of supply of service is in the same state or union territory, the said supply shall be treated as intra-state supply. However, the Bench remarked,

“By artificially creating a deeming provision in the form of Section 13(8)(b) of the IGST Act, where the location of the recipient of service provided by an intermediary is outside India, the place of supply has been treated as the location of the supplier i.e., in India. This runs contrary to the scheme of the CGST Act as well as the IGST Act besides being beyond the charging sections of both the Acts.”

In the light of the above, Ujjal Bhuyan, J., held that Section 13(8)(b) of the IGST Act, 2017 was ultra vires the said Act besides being unconstitutional. However, Abhay Ahuja, J., stated that he was unable to share the opinion of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and directed to list the matter on 16-06-2021 to express his opinion.[Dharmendra M. Jani v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 839, decided on 09-06-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief


Appearance before the Court by:

Counsel for the Petitioner: Adv. Bharat Raichandani a/w. Adv. Pragya Koolwal Counsel for Union of India: ASG Anil C. Singh a/w. Sr. Adv. Pradeep S. Jetly
Counsel for Respondent 1 to 4: Adv. J. B. Mishra
Counsel for State of Maharashtra: AGP S.G. Gore

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh, JJ., dealt with a petition which prayed for waiver of import and other duties on Amphotericin B, which is a drug being used for treatment of Mucormycosis (Black Fungus).

Counsel for the respondent informed the Court that Import Duty payable on import of Amphotericin B was 27 % wheareas the counsel for the petitioner informed it to be 70 %. Counsel for the respondent however submitted that there is complete waiver of customs duty on life saving drugs imported for personal use via a notification and on instructions, Amphotericin B would be covered by the said notification.

The Court was of the view that the said drug is required to save lives of the people suffering from the disease which is inflicting thousands of people all over the country, and there is acute shortage of the same in the country, and that the Central Government should seriously consider waiver of complete Customs and other duties & levies on the import of the said drug by all, at least, for the period that the same is in short supply in India and is required to treat the disease, namely Mucormycosis (Black Fungus).

The Court directed that if any import is made by any person of the said medicine, the same may be cleared by accepting a bond (to the effect that in case the duty is payable and not waived, the same shall be paid) from the importer without actual payment of duties till a final decision on the said aspect is taken. The Court will hear the matter on 01-06-2021.

[Laieq Ahmad Siddiqui v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi,  2021 SCC OnLine Del 2986, decided on 27-05-2021]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant had put this report together 

For the petitioner: Mr Rohit Sharma

For the respondent: Mr Rahul Mehra, Senior Advocate along with Mr Gautam Narayan, ASC & Mr Satyakam, ASC with Mr Aditya P. Khanna, Ms Dacchita Sahni, Ms Ritika Vohra and Mr Chaitanya Gosain, Advocates for the respondent/ GNCTD.

 Mr Amit Mahajan, Mr Kirtiman Singh & Ms Nidhi Mohan Parashar, CGSCs for the respondent/ UOI.

Mr Ashish Mohan, Advocate for respondent No.3/ SGRH.

Mr Rajshekhar Rao, Senior Advocate (Amicus Curiae) along with Mr Anandh Venkataramani, Ms Mansi Sood, Ms Sonal Sarda and Mr Areeb Amanullah, Advocates.

Mr Krishnan Venugopal, Senior Advocate with Mr Manan Verma, Mr Aditya N Prasad, Mr Kaushik Mishra & Ms Anmol Srivastava, Advocates.

Hot Off The PressNews

On the basis of specific intelligence, under the direction of the Commissioner of Customs (Preventive), Bhubaneswar Shri Debashish Sahu, investigation was initiated and relevant business premises of Exporter and Customs House Agent at various places was searched.

Prima facie evasion of Customs duty to the extent of Rs 8,07,66,314/- (Rupees Eight Crore Seven Lakh Sixty-Six Thousand Three Hundred and Fourteen) only by M/s. B S Minerals, Keonjhar, Odisha-758001 on Iron Ore fines which was to be exported from Paradeep, India to Main Port, China in-vessel “MV MAGNUM FORTUNE” was detected by the Customs officials.

Thereafter, 52051 MT of goods valued at Rs.26,92,21,045/-were seized. Subsequently, the exporter deposited Customs duty to the tune of Rs.8,07,66,314/- (Rupees Eight Crore Seven Lakh Sixty Six Thousand Three Hundred and Fourteen) only and submitted Bank Guarantee of Rs. One Crore to the government exchequer for taking the provisional release of the goods in addition to depositing a Bond of Rs 5.4 Crore with the Customs Authorities.

Further investigation is under progress.

PRESS RELEASE


CBIC

[Press Release dt. 29-12-2020]

Business NewsNews

Khadi has once again come out of its customary veil, marking its presence in the exclusive HS code bracket, issued by the central government on 4th Nov’19 to categorize its products in export.

In a long-awaited move to make the export of Khadi, exclusively categorized from the general league of textile products, the ministry of commerce and industries has allocated separate HS code for this signature fabric of India this week.

Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena said that this decision of the government will open a new chapter in the field of Khadi export. Earlier, Khadi did not have its exclusive HS code. As a result, all the data regarding the export of this signature fabric used to come as a normal fabric under the textile head. Now, we will be able to keep a constant eye not only on our export figures but it will also help us in planning our export strategies.

HS Stands for Harmonized System and it is a six-digit identification code. It was developed by the WCO (World Customs Organization) and custom officers use HS Code to clear every commodity that enters or crosses any international border.

Khadi and Village Industries products are eco-friendly and natural and are in great demand in the International Markets. Recognizing its potential to generate exports and its eco-friendly importance, the Ministry of Commerce had accorded deemed Export Promotional Council Status (EPCS) to KVIC in 2006, to boost the export of Khadi products. However, in the absence of separate HS code, the export of Khadi products was difficult to categorize and calculate.


Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises

[Press Release dt. 06-11-2019]

[Source: PIB]

[Image Credits: Outlook India]

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

G.S.R. 124(E)—WHEREAS, the Central Government is satisfied that the import duty leviable on all goods originating in or exported from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, falling under the First Schedule to the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 (51 of 1975) (hereinafter referred to as the Customs Tariff Act), should be increased and that circumstances exist which render it necessary to take immediate action.

Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 8A of the Customs Tariff Act, the Central Government, hereby directs that the First Schedule to the Customs Tariff Act, shall be amended in the following manner, namely:—

In the First Schedule to the Customs Tariff Act, in Section XXI, in Chapter 98, after tariff item 9805 90 00 and the entries relating thereto, the following tariff item and entries shall be inserted, namely:—

(1)

(2) (3) (4)

(5)

“9806 00 00

All goods originating in or exported from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 200%

-“.

[F. No. 354/40/2019-TRU]

Ministry of Finance

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court:The culprit is finning, and the result is the species thinning, to the extent of disappearing – almost”, said Dama Seshadri Naidu, J., speaking for himself and Antony Dominic, CJ. while dismissing an appeal filed challenging the notification passed by the Central Government vide which the Government imposed ban on export of shark fins. It is noteworthy that internationally too, ‘shark finning’ is a detestable fishing activity, leading to environmental and ecological calamities.

The appellant was a marine produce exporter, dealing exclusively in shark fins. He assailed the notification banning the export of sharks as ultra vires the Government power under relevant statutes. Earlier, too, in 2001, the Union of India banned catching all species of shark in India, treating them as endangered animal under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. However, due to widespread protest, the ban was constricted to only 9 out of 99 shark and ray species. Subsequently, in 2015, the Government exercised its powers under Section 5 of the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992, and ordered the impugned notification, wherein export of all shark fins, of whatever species, was banned. The appellant sought striking down of the notification as void. The notification was also challenged for violating Article 14 of the Constitution.

After a lengthy discussion on law relating to the subject, the High Court inter alia observed that the said notification was piece of subordinate legislation. Placing reliance on the decision of Supreme Court in Indian Express Newspaper (Bombay) (P) Ltd. v. Union of India, (1985) 1 SCC 641, the High Court observed that a piece of subordinate legislation does not carry the same immunity as enjoyed by a statute passed by competent legislature. Subordinate legislation may be questioned on all grounds as are available against the plenary legislation including ignorance of the parent statute; contravention of some other statute; and unreasonableness in the sense of being manifestly arbitrary. On perusal of the notification and the policy behind it, the Court held that, the ban was introduced to protect the wildlife in general and sharks in particular, which are regarded by the Government as an endangered animal. The re-introduction of the ban after a gap of over 13 years was also plausible as on the high seas it was impossible for the fishermen to identify and differentiate one species of shark from the other. Further, challenge to the notification on ground of violating Article 14 was also dismissed by the Court. True that the notification did not prohibit hunting of shark for domestic consumption, though it bans export of shark fins. However, such distinction seems to be based on an intelligible differentia as shark meat is not a staple food for Indians. To cater the needs of miniscule number of consumers, no danger of wholesale killing of sharks arise. Thus, the Court did not find any infirmity in the impugned notification; the writ appeal was dismissed. [Marine Fins v. Union of India,  2018 SCC OnLine Ker 1950, order dated 29-5-2018]

Business NewsNews

S.O.(E)- In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Foreign Trade (Development & Regulation) Act, 1992 (No.22 of 1992) (as amended from time to time) read with paragraph 2.01 of the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-2020, the Central Government hereby makes amendments to the Sl. No. 92, Chapter 15 of Schedule 2 of ITC (HS) Classification of Export & Import Items 2018 on Export Policy of edible oils.

2. In supersession of Notification No. 85 dated 17.03.2008, Notification No. 24(RE-2012)/2009-14 dated 19thOctober 2012, Notification No 22(RE-2013)/2009-14 dated 18.06.2013, Notification No 108(RE-2013)/2009-14 dated 06.02.2015, Notification No. 17/2015-20 dated 06.08.2015 and Notification No. 43/2015-20 dated 27.03.2017 relating to 51. No. 92 of Schedule 2 of ITC(HS) Classification of Export & Import Items 2018, the following amendments are made, with immediate effect :

SI. No. Tariff Item HS Code Unit Item Description Amended Policy
92

All ITC(HS) Codes pertaining to the edible oils under Chapter 15 of Schedule 1 (Import Policy) of ITC(HS) Classification of Export & Import Items 2017

Kg.

All varieties of edible oils, except mustard oil

Free

3. Export of mustard oil in branded consumer packs of up to 5 kgs will continue to be permitted with a Minimum Export Price (MEP) of USD 900 per MT.

4. Effect of this Notification: All varieties of edible oils, except mustard oil, have been made ‘free’ for export without any quantitative ceilings, pack size etc., till further orders.

[Notification No. 01/2015-202]

Ministry of Commerce & Industry