The Gujarat High Court has issued notice to the Central Government in response to a petition filed by port operators aggrieved by the authority’s decision to withdraw benefits extended on export of services for maritime transport for the year 2019-2020 with retrospective effect.

Gujarat Port Association which is made up of minor port operators, has approached the high court challenging the director general of foreign trade’s notification issued on September 23, changing the foreign trade policy that has continued since 2015, with regard to the Service Exports from India Scheme. The scheme was aimed an encouraging and maximizing the export of notified services from India. In the 2015, foreign trade policy, the list of services, rates and conditions for rewards un- der SEIS was notified. The benefits were given since 2016.

The petitioner’s advocate Paritosh Gupta, submitted that members of the association provide various support services for maritime transport at multiple ports.

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The were eligible for benefits under SEIS under the trade policy. Even in a circular issued on March 31, 2020, the DGFT had extended the foreign trade policy till March 31, 2021. Since the rates were not revised, benefits were to flow according to those of the previous year, 2018-2019.

Even after deciding to continue the policy till 2022 by way of notification in September 2021, the authority denied the benefits of SEIS with retrospective effect for 2019-2020.

The new notification contained a list of eligible services but deleted support services for maritime transport. Morevoer, the facility recognized in the scheme in respect of INR payment for services has been nullified, which has resulted in total denial of accrued SEIS benefits for services rendered and realized during 2019-2020 and that too after more than a year. It was submitted that this curtailment in benefits is in violation of orders passed by the Supreme Court and various high courts.

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