Madras High Court dismisses plea filed against levy of 70 per cent safeguard duty

The Madras High Court (HC) has dismissed the writ petition filed by domestic project developer Shapoorji & Pallonji challenging the Directorate General of Safeguards’ recommendation of 70 per cent safeguard duty on import of solar panels and modules.

Acting on a petition from domestic solar manufacturers who claimed imports of solar panels and modules were causing their industry serious injury, the Directorate General of Safeguards had in mid-January 2018 suggested imposing a whopping 70 per cent levy on solar imports.

Solar developers were deeply dismayed by the recommendation, claiming it would raise construction costs and thereby solar tariffs, which have been falling steeply for some years now.

The Madras court’s move has now strengthened the case for the levy of safeguard duty on solar imports from China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan.

The dismissal will lead to a public hearing, after which a report will be sent to a panel of secretaries of commerce, revenue, industrial policy, external affairs and new and renewable energy ministries for a final call.

Directorate General of Safeguards is likely to submit its final report by August 18, 2018. After that it’s up to the Ministry of Commerce to levy or not to levy the duty of 70 per cent for 200 days that was recommended in the preliminary finding. This recommendation from the Directorate General of Safeguards came after the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA) filed a petition with the Directorate General of Safeguards Customs and Central Excise in December 2017, that sought the imposition of a safeguard duty on imported solar cells from China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan.

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