Domestic Solar Manufacturers Collateral Damage In Tussle Between Govt And SC

Highlights :

  • The dismissal of the special leave petitions by the SC is a rude shock to a government used to see bodies ‘adjusting’ to its peculiar ways.
  • Domestic manufacturers who were counting on a quick restart of some protection from imports will feel aggrieved.

The ongoing tussle between the union government and the Supreme Court, where the apex court has repeatedly expressed its displeasure at the slow pace of filling of vacancies in courts, and lately in tribunals too, has come back to hurt solar manufacturers. Of course, for the sector as a whole, this is not the first time they have felt the repurcussions of the tussle, as we saw with the shutdown of the CERC (Central Electricity Regulatory Commission) earlier. It had been asked to cease work after the Supreme Court insisted that the government appoint a member of law, something the government eventually complied with after a significant delay that caused a huge backlog of cases at the CERC.

In the present case the Indian Solar Manufacturers Association (ISMA) will feel aggrieved. The body had filed a petition  with the DGTR for an anti dumping investigation to prevent losses. Only for the Solar Power developers association (SPDA) to file a petition in the high court asking for more time to respond to DGTR, following which the High court extended the last date for feedback on the investigation to July 19. That complicated matters, as now the DGTR investigation could not be completed before the expiry of Safeguard Duty on July 29. Which is where the industry finds itself now.

The government, in its wisdom, requested a four week extension to file the counter-affidavits in the anti-dumping investigation while simultaneously filing a special leave petition in the Supreme Court.

On the reason cited for the special leave petition, that there could be irreparable damage to domestic manufacturers, the SC made it clear that  delays if any were attributable to the government’s own failure to fill judicial posts. The Supreme Court also said that it had no reason to be involved at such an early stage of hearings in the High Court. Thus dismissing the petitions from both the government and the SPDA.

It admonished the government for taking 4 weeks to file a counter affidavit, but finding the time to file a special leave petition. Practically assuming that there would be a delay at the High court.

Caught in the middle are the solar manufacturers who fear that this ‘duty free’ period will lead to massive imports that cripple domestic demand. Of course, that fear seems a little exaggerated, considering how the government has leaned on non-tariff options like its ALMM list to stifle imports in the meantime.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International

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