At, Supreme Court of India
By, THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE R.C. LAHOTI & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE G.P. MATHUR
For the Petitioner: , Advocates. For the Respondents: , Advocates.
1. The learned counsel for Respondents 1, 2 and 3 are present in the Court on caveat. Respondent 4 is pro forma party so far as these proceedings are concerned.
2. Leave granted.
3. With the consent of the learned counsel for the parties present, the appeals are heard finally.
4. Proceedings for imposition of anti dumping duty under the Customs Tariff (Identification, Assessment and Collection of Anti Dumping Duty on Dumped Articles and for Determination of Injury) Rules, 1995 are in progress. A notification imposing provisional anti dumping duty was issued, the life whereof has come to an end. Respondent 1 herein filed a writ petition in the High Court laying challenge to the provisional duty as also other proceedings which are in progress. On 25-1-2005, during the course of hearing before the High Court, the High Court on a prayer made by Respondent 1 herein, passed an order that final findings in the anti dumping proceedings shall not be recorded by the designated authority. Subsequently, by order dated 16-2-2005, the High Court modified its earlier order and directed that the designated authority may proceed to record the final findings but the same shall be kept in a sealed cover and the recommendations made by the designated authority shall be subject to the final decision of the writ petition.
5. It is stated at the Bar that realising the urgency of the matter, the High Court has commenced the final hearing which is in progress. However, the same may take a reasonable time, whereafter, on conclusion of the hearing, the High Court would pronounce its judgment.
6. The learned Senior Counsel for the appellant has submitted that there is a detailed procedure laid down in the Rules consisting of several stages and steps. The findings recorded by the designated authority shall have to be published by way of notification under R.17. After being communicated the findings, the Central Government may or may not agree with the same. If it agrees with the findings, a notification imposing anti dumping duty may be issued. According to the learned Senior Counsel for the appellant, the time for making the recommendations by the designated authority expires on 25-4-2005 (which date according to the learned Senior Counsel for Respondent 1 would be 28-4-2005) and the decision shall have to be taken by the Central Government within three months thereafter. If any of the dates elapses, then the entire process falls to the ground.
7. During the course of hearing, we asked the learned Senior Counsel for Respondent 1 as to how it is going to be prejudiced if the findings of the designated authority are communicated to the Central Government and published by way of notification. After hearing him, we are not satisfied that any party can be prejudiced, much less irreparably, merely by the communication or publication of the findings of the designated authority by way of notification. On the contrary, if the process is delayed and the time limit laid down for any of the stages expires without accomplishment, then the entire proceedings may stand frustrated. The balance of convenience does not lie in favour of passing or continuing any of the interim orders passed by the High Court.
8. Though we are confident that the High Court would certainly conclude the hearing before it as expeditiously as it can and would pronounce its judgment, yet we do not find any justification for sustaining the interim orders dated 25-1-2005 and 16-2-2005 passed by the High Court. The same are directed to be vacated. The designated authority may submit its final findings to the Central Government and the same shall also be available for being published by way of notification. The Central Government may take its own decision on such findings in accordance with law. Needless to say, all these steps including the imposition of anti dumping duty, in the event of the Central Government forming an opinion to do so, would be subject to the result of the writ petition pending in the High Court and the High Court does have power to grant an interim relief at any stage of the proceedings subject to a case in that regard being made out. That is what the law is. The decision of the Central Government in the matter of anti dumping duty is appealable and also subject to writ jurisdiction on well settled parameters of constitutional law.
9. The learned Senior Counsel for the appellant has submitted that on their behalf an objection to the maintainability of the writ petition before the High Court for want of territorial jurisdiction has been raised and the High Court may be requested to decide that issue as a preliminary issue. On the contrary, it is submitted by the learned Senior Counsel for Respondent 1 (the petitioner in the High Court) that the question of territorial jurisdiction h
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as been argued in the High Court and the High Court is hearing the petition not piecemeal but in its entirety. We do not consider it necessary to express any opinion on the manner in which the High Court would proceed to hear the case before it. So also we clarify that we should not be understood as having expressed any opinion on the merits of the case before the High Court. 10. The appeals stand allowed subject to the abovesaid observations and to the extent as indicated hereinabove. 11. No order as to costs.