Consider allowing export of pending onion consignments: Bombay HC tells Customs
The bench was hearing a petition filed by Horticulture Produce Exporters Association challenging the abrupt ban imposed by the central government on export of onionsUpdated: Sep 25, 2020, 16:12 IST
The Bombay high court on Friday directed the Customs authorities in Mumbai to consider allowing pending consignments of onion -- of about 108 containers which were brought to Customs before the Centre suddenly banned onion export on September 14 -- to be exported.
“It will be in the interest of justice to consider the case of the petitioners, because their consignments were with the Customs authorities before issuance of the notification (imposing band on onion export),” said the bench of justice Ujjal Bhuyan and justice Abhay Ahuja.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by Horticulture Produce Exporters Association challenging the abrupt ban imposed by the central government on export of onions.
In the petition, filed through advocate Sujay Kantawala, the association contended that the Ease of Doing Business promise of the Centre clearly stopped the authorities from arbitrarily interfering with the freedom to export freely exportable goods.
The petition added that section 51 of the Customs Act, 1962, mandates Customs officers to clear goods for export, if satisfied that their export is not prohibited. The Customs officers, however, acted arbitrarily on September 14, and refused to process Let Export Orders (LEOs) even before the notification was issued, said the petition.
The counsel for the petitioner association, senior advocate Darius Shroff, pointed out that the notification came in the evening, at about 6 pm on September 14, but the Customs officers refused to process LEOs from the morning of September 14, even when the consignments were brought to the parking plaza outside the Customs area.
Senior advocate Pradeep Jaitley, who represented the Customs, however, claimed that most of the consignments for which export bills were submitted have been cleared by the authorities and allowed to be exported. He added that if any consignments are still remaining, the authorities would certainly consider the same.
The bench appreciated the efforts made by Customs to mitigate hardship faced by onion exporters because of the abrupt ban, but added the case of the members of the petitioner association were also required to be considered.
The bench directed the authorities to consider the case of the petitioners at the earliest, as the goods are perishable, and posted the petition for further hearing on September 29.