The Delhi High Court on Wednesday extended the stay on export of non-basmati rice after several firms appealed in the court to be made party to the suit, challenging the licences to 82 exporters by the government,alleging lack of transparency in quota allocation process. A Bench of Justice S K Kaul and Justice Rajiv Shakdhar while extending the stay on the export today, allowed the plea of other rice firms, including All India Grain Exporters Association, to raise their objections by making them party to the Kannu Aditya Ltd suit and listed the matter for further hearing on September 7.

The Bench also directed the Director General of Foreign Trade to scrutinise the applications of exporters to whom the Centre has allocated the quota for export of non-basmati rice.

On July 19, the ministry had notified the decision to allow non-basmati rice exports, lifting a ban imposed in April 2008 to control high food prices. The ministry allocated the quota on first-come-first serve basis and the letter of intent was invited through e-mail. However, only two days (July 21-22) were given to make applications for exports.

Following this, Kannu Aditya Ltd, a rice exporting firm, moved the court, alleging that there was no transparency in the process adopted by the government in granting the export licences.

Hearing the petition, the high court on July 26 directed the ministry of commerce not to proceed with its plan to grant licences for export of non-basmati rice.

However, a day after the High Court order, the ministry allocated export of 1 million tonnes of non-basmati rice to 82 exporters.

After Kannu Aditya Ltd alleged in high court that the July 26 order to stop allocation of export quota was not followed by the government, the Centre assured the court that its order would be strictly complied with.

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