Importers move SC on violation of govt norms pertaining to port charges

The Material Recycling Association of India (MRAI) has moved the Supreme Court for implementation of government orders, directing shipping lines and container freight stations (CFS) to waive off detention charges, ground rent and demurrage during the lockdown period.

Between March and April 2020, the Ministry of Shipping and the Finance Ministry issued several orders and circulars directing the shipping lines, CFSs and ICDs to not levy penal charges on importers during the period of the lockdown, to ease the problem being faced by importers in moving goods from the ports during lockdown. The MRAI has claimed that despite the government notification on waiver of penal charges, CFS, the shipping lines and the ICDs have either partially or fully levying penalty on importers for delay in taking delivery of the goods. So far the importers have already paid about Rs 15000 crore to the shipping lines and CFS in penalties for the lockdown period.

This, according to MRAI president Sanjay Mehta, has pushed the recycling industry into a precarious financial condition. “Huge financial losses are being caused to the importers community on a daily basis. About 1,000 importers are suffering cumulative losses to the tune of almost Rs 150 crore per day. In many cases, the amount penalty exceeds the value of the goods imported,” said Mehta.

In its petition before the SC, the MRAI has also sought an extension of waiver of penal charges for the entire lockdown period. The writ petition said the members of MRAI and other importers should be “permitted to take delivery of their goods without having to pay any penal charges during the entirety of the lockdown period”.

The apex court is likely to hear the case on June 4, said sources.

Apart from MRAI several other importers have individually moved various high courts in the country citing violation of government waiver rules pertaining to the lockdown period by the shipping lines and CFS.