W.P. (C) 487/2021
Petition to completely ban export of iron ore (in the form of pellets or otherwise)
Common Cause filed a writ petition to completely ban export of iron ore (whether in the form of pellets or otherwise) or in the alternative to levy an export duty of 30% on export of iron ore in all forms including pellets (except pellets manufactured and exported by KIOCL). The petition also prays to initiate proceedings under Section 11 of the Foreign Trade (Development & Regulation) Act, 1992 and Section 135(1) of the Customs Act, 1962, and for levy of appropriate penalty as per law against the mining companies which have been exporting iron ore pellets in contravention of the provisions of India’s export policy, thereby, evading the export duty chargeable on the export of iron ore pellets. The petition also directs a thorough and independent investigation into the role of public officials in allowing the same.
On September 24, 2021, the bench consisting of the Chief Justice with Justices Surya Kant & Hima Kohli heard the counsel for Common Cause, Prashant Bhushan and the Caveator-in-person Manohar Lal Sharma.
The Court convened the hearing through Video Conferencing and issued notice, returnable after four weeks. Meanwhile, the bench has directed the respondents to file the counter affidavit.
On October 27, 2021, the bench consisting of the Chief Justice with Justices Surya Kant & Hima Kohli, Manohar Lal Sharma, the petitioner-in-person, mentioned Writ Petition (Cr) No.334/2020. The bench directed the Registry to list the matter on 11.11.2021.
On November 11, 2021, the Chief Justice, Justice AS Bopanna & Justice Hima Kohli, heard the petitioners. The bench noted that the Solicitor General of India requested two weeks’ time to file counter-affidavit vide order dated 26.08.2021. In compliance with the order dated 24.09.2021, the counter-affidavit filed by the Union of India is taken on record. The Union of India is directed to provide a copy of the counter affidavit to the petitioners. WP(Cr) No.334/2020. The bench has asked the matter to be posted on 26.11.2021 along with W.P.(Crl.)No.334/2020 and rejoinder affidavit, if any, be filed, in the meantime.
The tagged matter was mentioned by the petitioner, Manohar Lal Sharma, to direct the Registry to list the matter.
On February 18, 2022, the bench consisting Chief Justice, Justice AS Bopanna & Justice Hima Kohli ordered the matter to be listed on March 9, 2022 for final hearing.
On March 22, 2022, Manohar Lal Sharma, petitioner in W.P.(Crl.)No.334/2020, mentioned the case.
Recently, the government has raised export tariffs on new iron ores and concentrates to 50% from 30%, and duties on pellets to 45% from zero. The government has also waived customs duty on the import of some raw materials, like coking coal, ferronickel, etc. This move will hopefully lower the cost for the domestic steel industry and might reduce the prices in India. This move is also pertinent for Indian steel players, who hoped to fill the void of supply left by China, Russia & Ukraine.
The Mint reported that:
“With a view to reduce carbon emissions and reduce exports, China had imposed export rebate cuts in May 2021 which had reduced export levels while many western nations were working on reducing imports from China due to trade tensions.”
In addition to this:
“...both Russia & Ukraine together account for 10%-11% of the global steel trade i.e. 45-46MnT with exports largely catering to the European Union demand. The shortfall of steel in the global market had increased realisations and Indian steel players were poised to take the advantage in form of margin expansion with domestic steel prices still at a discount to import prices. Although with the imposition of export duties, the industry investment sentiment is negatively impacted, steel players are likely to increase the volumes of ferro alloys and colour-coated products and other products on which export duties have not been levied...”