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M/s O.M. Traders Versus The Union of India And Others

2016 (2) TMI 577 - KARNATAKA HIGH COURT

Import of poppy seeds from Turkey - change in the procedure and policy for import of poppy seeds from "free import" to import on "first come first served basis" - Held that:- it is an admitted fact that the petitioner is not an applicant seeking registration of any sale contracts for the import of poppy seeds from Turkey, as against the impugned notification. The mala fides urged against the respondents, in relation to the earlier public notifications are no longer relevant as the respondents ha .....

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dents, but it cannot be characterized as illegal or arbitrary. - The explanation offered by the respondents as to the reason and rationale in adopting a prescription of a provisional cap and a country cap, in so far as the imports from Turkey is concerned, is also acceptable. Hence, the petition lacks merit and is hereby dismissed. - Writ Petition No. 42816 of 2015 (GM-RES) - Dated:- 5-1-2016 - Anand Byrareddy, J. For the Appellant : Shri Jeevan J Neeralgi, Central Government Standing Counse .....

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he said commodities. It is stated that in the course of his business, the petitioner sought to import 180 tonnes of poppy seeds from Turkey on the basis of a contract entered into with their overseas suppliers dated 31.7.2015. It is stated that the Foreign Trade policy envisaged submission of import contracts for specified quantities to the office of the Narcotics Commissioner, Central Bureau of Narcotics, Gwalior, who in turn would register the contract, pursuant to which the imports were permi .....

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racts for import of poppy seeds from Turkey for the financial year 2015-16 on 10.8.2015 on the website of the said office, after office hours. It was therefore inexplicable that applications are shown to have been received, by courier and post within 18 hours thereof, from such far flung places as Pune, Delhi, Shahajahanpur, Kanpur and Mumbai. Leading to a presumption that the said applicants obviously had prior information of the notice and the details required to be furnished. It is stated tha .....

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tics Commissioner:- a) For the current financial year (2013-14), in which there are less than 2 months left, imports may be permitted on the basis of valid import contracts, subject to country caps. The caps for the countries may be determined by the Narcotics Commissioner after ascertaining the production and stocks of the respective countries. No imports would be allowed from a particular country, once the cap for the said country is reached. To implement this decision, Narcotics Commissioner .....

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so as to arrive at the country caps. II. Poppy seeds import contracts will be registered on first come first served basis, till the caps for the respective countries is reached. III. The import contracts will be valid for only 3 months. If the quantity mentioned in the contract is not imported in this period, or only partly imported, the said quantity or the balance quantity will be released and can be allotted to other importers, again on first come first served basis. IV. The Narcotics Commis .....

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h regard to registration of import contracts for import of poppy seeds. In terms of the said communication, the provisional country caps were said to have been fixed in respect of import of poppy seeds from Turkey, China and the Czech Republic. It was also said to have been indicated that it would be on a first come - first served basis, till the quantity of the country cap is reached, provided that the maximum quantity to be registered in respect of any particular applicant in the first instanc .....

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ndent no.4 of the country caps for import of poppy seeds from Turkey for the financial year 2014-15 and other guidelines in relation thereto. It is stated that two public notices were said to have been issued thereafter by the Central Bureau of Narcotics, inviting applications from importers for registration of sale contracts for import of poppy seeds into India for the year 2015-16, wherein all importers were said to have been called upon to furnish details of total quantity of poppy seeds impo .....

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ein the final country caps with regard to import of poppy seeds from China and the Czech Republic were informed. Pursuant to the above notices, respondent no.4 is said to have issued a further public notice dated 10.8.2015 calling for applications for registration of sale contracts for import of poppy seeds from Turkey and it was indicated that applications would be accepted upto a limit of 18594 metric tonnes as fixed. It was also indicated that applications received after the above limit was m .....

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re received within 18 hours of the issuance of the public notice dated 10.8.2015. This according to the petitioner is a physical impossibility. And further the petitioner's application does not find mention in the list. It is stated that the above action of favouring particular applicants in a shady fashion was sought to be questioned by another importer, before this court in a writ petition in WP 36202/2015. This court, by its order dated 27.8.2015, had directed the very respondents not to .....

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f poppy seeds from Turkey for the year 2015-16. The fourth respondent has now issued yet another public notice dated 14.9.2015 inviting applications for registration of sales contract pertaining to the import of poppy seeds from Turkey for the year 2015-16. This has been said to have been challenged by another importer before the Madras High Court in a writ petition in WP 29806/2015 and the court had granted an interim order restraining further action by the respondents, as per its order dated 2 .....

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eir applications in respect of imports from Turkey, unlike in respect of the imports from China and the Czech Republic. And that the entire procedure for registration of sale contracts for import of poppy seeds from those countries is completely different from the procedure adopted in respect of Turkey. It is stated that the public notice dated 14.9.2015 seeks to apportion the provisional country cap of 14875 MT of poppy seeds for import from Turkey on the basis of two categories of applicants, .....

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are those who may have never imported earlier and would indefinitely remain outside the zone of consideration. It is pointed out that the present policy adopted by the respondents, allows persons who had imported poppy seeds in the past, falling under Category-A to register sales contract for a quantity of 270 MT as against persons falling under Category -B, who are said to be eligible to register a sales contract only for a quantity of upto 180 MT. It is also pointed out that the public notice .....

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the counsel for respondents no. 1 and 4, would on the other hand, contend that the petitioner had not chosen to participate in the exercise of filing any application to register sale contracts for the import of poppy seeds from Turkey to India for the period 2015-16, but has chosen to file this petition to stall the proceedings in that regard. It is admitted that the earlier public notices calling for registration of contracts for import of poppy seeds, vide notification dated 10.8.2015 and anot .....

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e, thereby affecting the common man. It is pointed out that the several grounds raised with reference to the earlier notifications, which have now been abandoned, are no longer relevant and ought to be ignored. It is contended that there are the following issues that are sought to be urged, which may require to be met. The question regarding categorization of importers and the question regarding the concept of provisional country cap with regard to imports from Turkey and the absence of such pro .....

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so pointed out that the petitioner was a defaulter. In that, he was a registered importer for the year 2014-15. The petitioner was required to submit details of imports against their registered sale contracts, which the petitioner had failed to comply with. It was only after issuance of a notice in that regard that the petitioner had sought to comply. It is pointed out that in so far as categorization of importers is with a view to ensure that regular importers do not suffer and at the same time .....

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inted out that during the crop year 2014-15, contracts for a total quantity of 15375 MT were registered for import. However, the actual import was only 13669 MT. This short-fall had created an artificial scarcity, thereby resulting in rise in prices. It was hence justified to have a classification of assured importers and the casual importers who had obtained licence, but never imported. As regards the fixation of a provisional country cap with respect to Turkey was for the reason that with rega .....

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mporters who have imported poppy seeds from Turkey in three years out of the last five years. And that there were 183 applicants in Category -B. The category -A applicants had imported a total of 58624 MT of poppy seeds from Turkey for the last five years and the 183 importers in Category - B had imported 8845 MT of poppy seeds in the last five years. On the basis of the above import statistics, the average ratio of Category -A importers is about 86% and the average ratio of Category -B importer .....

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ould be an abundant balance of 12590 MT available for Category -B importers and at least 70 or more of them would get their full quota. Hence, the argument sought to be canvassed of an unfair treatment to category-B importers is sought to be demonstrated as being untenable. 4. The learned counsel for the petitioner, however, would yet contend that the policy adopted by the respondents is wholly unreasonable and unfair and that it results in discrimination and would suggest the following options .....

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oppy seeds have been legally grown in Turkey as per the requirements of International Narcotics Control Board. On production of the certificate the goods will be cleared. 4. The same procedure shall be adopted once the final country cap is determined. 5. The Narcotics Commissioner shall ensure that the EDI (electronic data interchange) system is set up in such a way that once the country cap is achieved, the system will not accept any further bills of entry in respect of import of poppy seeds. 6 .....

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