Court clears solar imports from customs without paying safeguard duty

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Shapoorji Pallonji Infrastructure challenged the central government’s notification imposing a safeguard duty on solar PV imports in the Madras High Court, on the basis that the Odisha High Court had passed an interim order restraining the government until the next date of Acme Solar’s petition hearing.

The matter relating to the imposition of the safeguard duties is pending before the Odisha High Court, after project developers, Acme Solar and Vikram Solar challenged them. While Acme Solar won a stay order on the duty until the next hearing on August 20, Vikram Solar’s petition will be heard on August 14.

As a condition precedent for clearing the solar goods, the Madras High Court ruled that Shapoorji Pallonji is liable to pay the said duty in the event of the safeguard duty notification being upheld.

“The petitioner (Shapoorji Pallonji) by way of an interim application seeks an order of injunction restraining the respondents from acting on the basis of the impugned notification dated 30 July 2018. We direct the third respondent (Deputy Commissioner of Customs, Chennai) to assess provisionally the safeguard duty payable by the petitioner relating to the Bill of Entry dated 26 July 2018 in accordance with Section 18 of the Customs Act and release the goods without insisting payment of safeguard duty on executing a Bond by the Authorised Officer of the company,” read the court order copy, accessed by pv magazine.

It continued, “We make it clear that in the event of upholding the Notification, the petitioner is liable to pay the safeguard duty provisionally assessed by the authority.”

Among other developers, Vikram Solar is also hoping to get suitable relief from the Odisha High Court. It has requested the Court to direct the Ministry of Finance to clarify the applicability of the safeguard duty on special economic zone (SEZ) units and direct engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts, which have already been awarded.