The Central Government had challenged the decision of the CESTAT, which required the Government to reconsider the recommendations of DGTR rejected by it and issue a reasoned order. Pursuant to the challenge, the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi passed interim orders directing imports of products under issue to be subject to provisional assessment. The aforesaid interim order of the High Court was challenged by the Central Government before the Hon'ble Supreme Court. However, since the orders were only interim, the Supreme Court has refused to intervene.
In the last year, there has been an increased litigation in trade remedies, with a number of appeals filed by domestic manufacturers challenging the rejection of DGTR's recommendations by the Ministry of Finance (MoF). The CESTAT held that MoF is required to give reasoned order in case it decides to reject the recommendations of the DGTR and directed MoF to reconsider the recommendations. Such decisions were challenged by the Union of India before the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi via different writ petitions.
Interim Relief by the Delhi HC
Pursuant to challenge by the MoF, in the matter of Union of India v. Apcotex Industries Limited (W.P.(C) 10641/2022 & CM No. 30872/2022), the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi had granted interim relief in the form that imports of the products be subjected to provisional assessment till such time the matter was decided by the Court. As per the order, provisional assessment of the product in issue be undertaken, putting the importers on notice of the possibility of anti-dumping duties being levied on the imports, if the Court decides the petition in favour of the respondent.
Subsequent to the aforesaid decision, provisional assessment was directed for a number of products by the High Court. At the same time, in more recent cases, the CESTAT has also started directing provisional assessment of imports, pending the reconsideration of recommendation by the MoF, in those appeals wherein rejection of recommendations was being challenged.
SLP before the Supreme Court and order therewith
The interim order of the High Court of Delhi was challenged by the MoF before the Hon'ble Supreme Court via a Special Leave Petition (SLP). Vide order dated 24th March 2023, the Supreme Court refused to intervene, citing the interim nature of the order. However, considering the facts and circumstances of the matter, the Court has directed the High Court to dispose of the matter on merits as expeditiously as possible.
With the Hon'ble Supreme Court refusing to stay the interim order of the High Court, the course of action that MoF may take is yet to be seen. In the meantime, it is understood that some Customs Houses have already started clearing goods forming subject of decision of CESTAT and High Court under provisional assessments. Additionally, in light of the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, the High Court of Delhi can be expected to complete the hearing on the matter at an early date and dispose of the matter on its merits. Another aspect which could become interesting is the amendments introduced through the Budget of 2023. Since the amendments seek to modify the provisions pertaining to appellate remedy retrospectively with effect from 1995, they may become directly relevant to the case.
1 Further details of the CESTAT order can be read here.
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