Taking serious note of grave threat to national security by illegal smuggling of war material, the Supreme Court has appreciated the efforts of Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramaniam in preparing a comprehensive policy to ensure strict supervision and surveillance on imports.
With the efforts of Mr Subramaniam, the Union Home Ministry had prepared the policy that would ensure strict surveillance on imports and smuggling of war material and explosives under the garb of importing heavy metal scrap.
An bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly, in their judgement pronounced yesterday, noted ‘Before parting with the case, we consider it appropriate to place on record our deep appreciation for the efforts made by the learned Solicitor General, who made the concerned authority of the Government of India realise the potential threat to the national security due to import of war material and explosives in the garb of heavy metal scrap and a comprehensive decision has been taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure strict supervision of such imports.’ Justice Singhvi, writing a 10-page judgement for the bench, also directed the Supreme Court registry to send a sealed envelope containing a copy of the decision of the Centre to the Office of the Solicitor General.
The Customs Department had confiscated eight containers carrying war material and explosives such as artillery shells while the bills of lading said it was heavy metal scrap.
The seizures were made at Kandla Port, Gujarat in October and December 2004.
The apex court allowed the appeal of Kandla Port Trust against the judgement of Gujarat High Court dated November 27, 2006, which allowed the appeal of Coodrich Maritime Pvt Ltd and had quashed the demand of container storage charges and ground rent made by the Customs Department.
The apex court has remanded the matter back to the High Court for a fresh decision.