National and not international laws are supreme: SC

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New Delhi, Apr 27 (UNI) National laws are supreme and must prevail over international laws in case there is a conflict between the two, the Supreme Court has held.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhan and Dalveer Bhandari, while dismissing the petitions of several oil drilling companies said, '' In the event where they donot run into such conflicts, the sovereignty and the integrity of the Repulic and the supremacy of the constituted legislature in making the laws may not be subject to external rules except to the extent legitimately accepted by the constituted legislatures themselves.

''The question whether the courts can look into the provisions of the international treaties/conventions is no longer res integra.

this quote has held in Gramophone Company of India case that even in the absence of municipal laws, the trearies/conventions can be looked into and enforced if they are not in conflict with the municipal law.'' It was further held that the same might not be looked into but could also be used to interpret municipal laws so as to bring them in consonance with the international law.

Several companies including ABAN, LOYD, CHILES, OFFSHORE LTD and others had challenged Bombay High Court judgement upholding the action of the custom department levying of custom duty on transshipment of goods/stores imported by drilling contractors and suppplied to oil rigs, as store for consumption onboard on the oil rigs.

The High Court had held that the spare parts or equipment for the oil rigs were stores and the custom department is entitled to demand custom duty as oil rigs are foreign going vessels.

The apex court in its Seventy-three page judgement ruled,'' Article 127 of the UNCLOAS 1982 deals with the custom duties, taxes and other charges. Clause one provides that traffic in transit shall not be subject to any custom duty, taxes or other charges except charges levied for specific services rendered.'' According to this article where the goods are in transit to other countries shall not be subject to any custom duties, taxes or otrher charges.

In other words there is no prohibition for levying custom duties on the goods which are not in transit for onboard transmission to any other country.


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