Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: A Division Bench comprising of A.S. Bopanna, CJ. and Arup Kumar Goswami, J. interpreted the meaning of ‘Agricultural Produce’ of Assam Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1972.

The appellants were levying a cess on Mustard Oil imported from outside the State of Assam which was contended by the respondents to be unjustified and accordingly they sought for a refund of the amount collected by the respondent as cess.

The appellant here referred to the Section 2(1)(i) of Assam Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1972, which defines “Agricultural Produce” and if interpreted would include agricultural produce and as Mustard Seed was included in the Schedule at entry (IV) then its oil shall also be treated the same. Even ‘trade’ and ‘processing’ combines both processed and non-processed product thus bringing it under the ambit of agricultural produce. Alternately the respondent cannot be given the refund ordered as the cess burden was transferred by the respondent upon the end user and hence was unjustified.

Now the question arose whether Mustard Oil could be subjected to levy of cess without the same being included in the Schedule. It was answered by the case of State of Rajasthan v. Rajasthan Agriculture Input Dealer’s Assn., (1996) 5 SCC 479, according to which cess could only be levied on mustard seed and not on mustard oil as it was not considered as an agricultural produce. Further, regarding the refund, the Court considered it to be unjust enrichment upon the appellant as it was collected from the end user and could not be direct to be repaid to the appellant.

Accordingly, the appeal was partly allowed.[Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board v. Tinsukia Trading Co. (P) Ltd.,2018 SCC OnLine Gau 1581, decided on 08-11-2018]

Legislation UpdatesNotifications

The Central Government has, in exercise of powers conferred by Section 3 of FT (D&R) Act, 1992, read with paragraph 1.02 and 2.01 of the Foreign Trade Policy, 2015-2020, made the following amendment in ITC (HS) 2017, Schedule 1 (Import Policy):

The import of milk and milk products (including chocolates and chocolate products and candies/confectionary/food preparations with milk or milk solids as an ingredient) from China was prohibited till 23.06.2018 as per Notification No. 10/2015-2020 dated 22-06-2017, which has been reviewed and the prohibition has been extended for a further period of six months, i.e., till 23-12-2018 or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

[F. No. 01/93/180/898/AM99/PC-2 (A)/ e –1252]

Ministry of Commerce and Industry

NewsTreaties/Conventions/International Agreements

The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Turkey on trade in poppy seeds to ensure quick and transparent processing for import of poppy seeds from Turkey.

Details:

The MoU provides that

  1. Turkish Grain Board (TMO) shall maintain an online system to enable regulation of export of poppy seeds from Turkey to India. Exporting companies shall submit application through the Agean Exporters Association (EIB) (responsibility given by law) to TMO for obtaining membership of the online System.
  2. Each year, the quantity of poppy seeds which shall be imported by India from Turkey shall be decided by Government of India in consultation with Government of Turkey taking into account the production of poppy seeds in Turkey in a crop year, balance from previous crop years and domestic or other export requirement of Republic of Turkey.
  3. The exporting companies shall get registered with the TMO. Each sales contract entered into by the exporting company with Indian importer shall be registered with TMO through the online system referred. It shall be the responsibility of TMO not to register sales contract in excess of the quantity referred to in Para 2 above.
  4. Taking into account the quantity as referred to in Para 2 above, every year both parties may consider to set a quantity to be imported by any Indian importer in a crop year.
  5. The Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN) will register the sales contract registered by TMO as per details accessed on the online system maintained by TMO in accordance with guidelines for registration laid down by Ministry of Finance, Government of India. The CBN shall upload the details of sales contract so registered by it on the online system. TMO shall allow the export in respect of only those contracts so registered by CBN.
  6. The TMO shall provide a legal production certificate for the poppy seeds to exporters following the submission of sales contract and the completion of other necessary procedures.

The MoU will promote quick and transparent processing of quota allocation and prior authorization for poppy seeds import from Turkey. In this way genuiness of import contract can be easily ensured as well as many litigation matter resulting in delay in the import can be avoided. The MoU will ensure continuous availability of poppy seeds in domestic market of India and ultimately Indian consumers of poppy seeds will be benefited.

Background:

Import of poppy seeds from Turkey got withheld due to litigation resulting in great hike of price of poppy seeds in domestic market of India and hoarding of the same by some importers. Various stays given by the Court and repeated adjournment of hearing graves the situation and resulted in less availability of poppy seeds in the country leading to a great problems to the consumers. To avoid such legal complication, price rise and hoarding, an alternative mechanism needs to be evolved by way of an MoU between Government of India and Government of Turkey in which real time data can be exchanged to ensure the quantity of poppy seeds imported from Turkey is genuine and legally produced in Turkey.

Cabinet

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: The Court recently addressed a writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution wherein the petitioners asked for quashment of the impugned order and for waiver of the detention charges incurred on the subject goods on the basis of Regulation 6(1) of the Handling of Cargo in Customs Areas Regulations, 2009.

The facts of the case are that the petitioner had filed this petition challenging the original order which was passed by the respondent, in respect of an import made by the petitioner on a certain date for clearance of the imported goods under a certain Customs Tariff heading with a specific IGST rate assigned to it. The petitioner contended that after carrying out a self- assessment of the duty, as specified under Section 17(1) of the Customs Act, 1962, the assessable value came up to a different amount of money from the one that was pronounced by the petitioner. This was because the petitioner argued that to avail the concessional duty, the IGST rate needed to be calculated at 0% based on a previous notification. The respondent argued that the rate had to be calculated at a 5% rate on the basis of a different notification. The respondent thus was of the prima facie view that the exemption claimed by the petitioner for the imported goods did not appear to be correct.

The Court noticed that the respondent while passing the impugned order did not restrict himself only to the life consignment covered under Bill of Entry in question but also in respect of earlier import in Bill of Entry and proceeded to invoke his powers under Section 111(m) of the Customs Act, in the sense that the imported goods were liable to be confiscated.

The Bemch of T. S. Sivagnanam J., held that the respondent could not invoke Section 111(m) of the Customs Act as there appeared to be no allegation that the goods did not correspond in respect of the value or in any other particular with the entry made under the Act. In the impugned order, the respondent had accepted that there was no dispute in the classification of the goods. But the Court pointed out that no adjudication was needed on this matter since the petitioner only sought liberty to approach the appellate authority on this matter. Hence, along with granting liberty to file an appeal, the Court also directed the petitioner to pay the differential duty amount in respect of the earlier Bill of Entry and the duty on the Bill of Entry in question that the respondent had laid down following which the respondent would have to provisionally release the cargo within a period of seven days from the date of remittance for both Bills of Entry. [Priyanka Enterprises v. The Joint Commissioner of Customs; 2017 SCC OnLine Mad 9942, order dated 23.11.2017]