While allowing a writ petition, the HC asserted that statutory authorities are required to function responsibly since the focus is on good governance, which depends on efficient, transparent, and accountable delivery systems. In order to facilitate international trade, DGFT consults various Export Promotion Councils as well as Trade and Industry bodies from time to time. Thus, the DGFT is required to act as a facilitator in favour of good governance. This remarkable judgment was recently passed by Bombay High Court in the matter of Rika Global Impex Limited V Union of India and Ors. [WRIT PETITION (ST) NO.96678 OF 2020] by Honourable Justice Milind N. Jadhav and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan.
Through this writ petition, the petitioner prayed for a writ of mandamus against Commissioner of Customs and Assistant Commissioner of Customs, Appraising Group – I & IA to allow clearance of 2,650 MTs of Pigeon Peas covered under numerous Bill of Entry for home consumption which have been held up in spite of having a valid registration of Advance Payment Certificate which was issued by the Director-General of Foreign Trade permitting the import of Pigeon Peas under the Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020
The facts of the case are, Petitioner, a company, is a regular importer and exporter of agricultural produce including Pigeon Peas from Sudan, Myanmar, Tanzania, and Mozambique. DGFT amended the import policy of certain items and import of Pigeon Peas was revised from ‘free’ to ‘restricted’ category, initially, the petitioner was provided an expansion and approval, however, after he executed 13 more bills of entry, they were not granted approval in spite of compliance with the rules.
The total quantity of Pigeon Peas under the 13 bills of entry is 2650 MT clearance of which is the subject matter of the present writ petition. Thereafter petitioner requested the Deputy Commissioner of Customs (Import) to permit the petitioner to convert the bills of entry from home consumption to warehousing so as to enable the petitioner to transfer the goods to the actual warehouse who was the license holder in order to stop further losses being suffered due to non-clearance of the goods and due to its perishable nature. Being aggrieved by the non-clearance of the shipment of approximately 2650 MT of Pigeon Peas imported under the 13 bills of entry, the petitioner has approached this Court by the present petition.
The Court stated, “Contention of the respondents that under para 1.05(b) petitioner has not registered with the jurisdictional RA due to change in the policy of import of Pigeon Peas from free to a restricted category cannot apply to the petitioner’s case as the petitioner’s contract was based on advance payment to the supplier and not on the basis of ICLC (Irrevocable Commercial Letter of Credit). Hence this submission of the respondents cannot be accepted.”
The Court observed that “DGFT has considered the addendums while issuing the RC. In any case, by these addendums, terms of the contract are not substituted or changed, only the period of shipment is extended. In case of any material change in terms of a contract, the petitioner would have applied to the concerned ministry for seeking amendment. So, the RC is binding on the respondents until the completion of the import quota mentioned therein.”
Thus, the Court opined that “it is clearly discernible that petitioner’s import of 22000 MTs of Pigeon Peas under the RCs issued to the petitioner is valid up to 31.03.2021 and the case of the respondents that the same is restricted only to the fiscal year 2017-18 is clearly untenable.”
Hence, the Court allowed the writ petition and directed clearance of 2650 MT of Pigeon Peas covered under Bill of Entry and also clearance of the balance 8350 MT of Pigeon Peas for home consumption for a period of 6 weeks from the date of passing of the present order.