The Delhi High Court has stayed a Civil Aviation Ministry's order reducing the period for which the cargo coming through air could be stored for free at the airport.
In an interim decision, Justice S Ravinder Bhatt has restrained the ministry and Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd (DIAL) from giving effect to the order dated September 9, which reduced the period from five working days to three days.
Acting on a petition filed by Aero Sea Shipping Pvt Ltd, an importer of furniture in India, the court also issued notices to the Ministry and DIAL.
Aero Sea's counsel Sanjiv Puri contended that the notification issued by DIAL pursuant to the ministry's order was arbitrary and infringes the company's fundamental rights and hence, should be quashed.
As per the prevalent practice, the five-day period of free storage starts from the time the imported goods touch down at the airport.
Puri said there are various procedures before the goods are delivered to the importer and the five-day time is the "bare minimum" that is required to follow them.
In the event goods are not cleared within the free storage period, the importer is liable to pay demurrage to DIAL for the extra time taken for the delivery, the petition stated.
Reduction of this period from five days to three days will result in cargo going on demurrage after the expiry of third working day. This is not only impractical but impossible to apply as most of the free storage time is consumed by DIAL in bringing the cargo to the delivery stage.