A petitioner recently filed a writ of mandamus before the Madras High Court(1) arguing that the rights under a duty-free scrip issued under the foreign trade policy would accrue to the holder based on the date of its issuance, and that any subsequent change in the foreign trade policy (ie, after the issue of the scrip) would have no bearing on the rights granted thereunder. The authorities had in turn contended that certain imports by the petitioner were not covered under the scrip, on the basis of public notices or clarifications that came into after its issuance.

The high court took note of the Supreme Court's observations in SB International Ltd v Assistant Director General of Foreign Trade,(2) wherein it was categorically held that the norms that are applicable on the date on which a licence is issued will be valid in respect of goods imported under that licence. The high court added that the Supreme Court's view had been followed by the Division Bench of the Bombay High Court in Sonia Fisheries v Union of India,(3) wherein it was held that the policy prevailing on the date of grant of an advance licence would apply to imports made thereunder. A similar view was taken by the Supreme Court in Jain Exports (P) Ltd v Union of India.(4)

Accordingly, the high court decided the matter in favour of the petitioner, holding that a subsequent change in the foreign trade policy by way of public notices or clarifications will have no consequence in respect of a licence that has already been issued.

For further information on this topic please contact Ranjeet Mahtani or Divya Jeswant at Economic Laws Practice by telephone (+91 22 6636 7000), fax (+91 22 6636 7172) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]).

Endnotes

(1) Hoewitzer Organic Chemical Ltd v DGFT, New Delhi, Chennai 2013-TIOL-612-HC-MAD-CUS.

(2) (1996) 82 ELT 164 (SC).

(3) 1997 (90) ELT 22 (Bom).

(4) 2002-TIOL-241-SC-CUS.