No penalty for delay in evacuation of cargo due to COVID-19 lockdown: Customs Dept

The Commissioner of Customs, on Thursday made specific directions relating not to levy penalties, demurrage, charges, fee, rentals for any delay in evacuation of cargo caused by COVID-19 lockdown period from March 22, 2020 to 14 April, 2020.

This is in the light of complaints received by the office of Commissioner of Customs that CFSs are insisting for full payments of ground rent and other charges for delay in clearance of containers which can not be cleared due to nation-wide lockdown.

The Ministry of Shipping Order dated March 31, 2020 addressing all the Container Freight Stations at Jawaharlal Nehru Port and Container Freight Station Association of India (CFSAI) issued a circular seeking to reduce the hardships of the clients and direct exemption or remission in certain regards. The CFSAI was also directed not to impose any penalty for delay in evacuation of cargo during the lockdown period.

“In this regard your attention is drawn to the official letter dated March 27, 2020, inter alia advising that CFSs sensitively consider the request for a waiver from their clients,” the circular said.

“As laid down in GOI, CBIC Circular dated December 22, 1995, a CFS is taken to be an extended arm of the port and it functions as the dock. Hence, you are requested to follow the lawful position that is in the public domain and is specially brought to your notice as well,” the circular said while reminding CFSs of their position in the public domain.