Solar import release without paying safeguard duty, allowed by Madras High Court

In a new twist to the imposition of safeguard duty on imported solar panels and modules from July 30, the Madras High Court permitted Shapoorji Pallonji Infrastructure to get its consignment of panels from overseas released by customs officials at Chennai port without paying the duty.

The company has been asked to execute a bond for the amount due and will have to pay the duty if the notification imposing the levy is upheld.

Shapoorji Pallonji had moved the court seeking to quash the demand by customs for payment of safeguard duty on its consignment. The company said the notification was illegal and arbitrary since there was an interim order of the Odisha high court restraining the passing of any notification on the matter.

“The petitioner has made out a prima facie case for the grant of an interim order for release of the goods without paying the safeguard duty,” the high court said in an order. “We direct the third respondent (Deputy Commissioner of Customs, Chennai) to assess provisionally the safeguard duty payable by the petitioner… and release the goods without insisting on payment of safeguard duty on executing a bond by an authorised officer of the company.”