The Supreme Court has upheld the Bombay high court
order vacating the ban on the import of natural rubber
under the advance licence scheme (ALS).
a special leave petition filed by the centre challenging
the Bombay HC order, a two-member bench comprising Justice
Santosh Hegde and Justice B P Singh said the government
cannot approach the court to change its own policies.
When additional solicitor general Harish Salve pleaded
that the issue involved over 10 lakh small growers, the
judges said that do not expect the court to come to the
Bombay HC, on a petition filed by Naresh Udeshi, an exporter
of rubber products, ruled that the ban imposed by the
directorate-general of foreign trade (DGFT) on duty-free
import of natural rubber through ALS was null and void.
Sampat, president, All India Rubber Industries Association,
says the high court had said that the DGFT has no powers
to ban imports either through notifications or circulars.
The court in its ruling in last September had questioned
the DGFT's decision particularly when the government had
allowed duty-free import under ALS on 2 April 2002 in
the Exim Policy.
court, in particular, said the DGFT has no power to impose
such a ban under the Foreign Control Trade Act. When the
hearing came up in the Supreme Court recently, the bench
said the government could amend its policy to give effect
to the ban under ALS. The judges also asked the government
why it should approach the court to change a policy,"
government had banned imports under ALS in February 1999
through a circular because of the steep fall in the price
of rubber during 1998-99. Imports under ALS are free since
these are made against exports of value-added products.
The government then took other measures such as fixing
a minimum statutory price for rubber to help stabilise
the ban was relaxed in 2001, it was again tightened last
year as over 40,000 tonnes of rubber were imported. The
also came up a few measures such as allowing imports only
through Visakhapatnam and Kolkata ports and asking importers
to conform shipments to Bureau of Indian Standard norms.