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Madras High Court dismisses trader’s petition on licence suspension on explosives

Justice Sivagnanam said that bearing in mind the interest of national security, the Explosives department had thought it fit to restrict issuing import licenses in favour of Ammonium Nitrate.

By: PTI | Chennai |
August 13, 2016 10:21:45 pm
Ammonium Nitrate, substances used in bombs, Fireworks, how to make fireworks, Madras High Court, India news, High Court of Madras (File Photo)

The Madras High Court on Saturday dismissed a petition filed by an ammonium nitrate trader challenging suspension of his licence, observing that national security is of paramount importance and that the right to trade in explosives is subject to reasonable restrictions. A July 21, 2011 notification of the union government had declared ammonium nitrate as an explosive.

Justice T S Sivagnanam dismissed petitions filed by Sri Amman Chemicals, Karur, challenging suspension of their licence by the Joint Controller of Explosives, Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation, Chennai and also rejection of their application to import ammonium nitrate. The judge said a perusal of the impugned order of Joint Controller of Explosives showed they received a letter on May 17, 2016 from Principal Commissioner of Customs, saying the firm had received 696 Metric Tonnes of ammonium nitrate at Chennai Port and 500 MT to Visakhapatnam Port without valid licence and also imported another 740 MT from Korea. Joint Controller of Explosives said the company supplied ammonium nitrate to a firm in Bengaluru and to various quarries, all of whom did not possess licence. In view of these unauthorised illegal activities, the licence granted was
suspended as an interim measure.

The judge said the reasons for exercising the power of interim suspension is vivid on a reading of the impugned order. Therefore, the petitioner was not correct in contending that the licensing authority had not recorded his opinion while exercising the power of the interim suspension, he said.

The judge said, “The court can take judicial notice of the fact from various news reports that the presence of ammonium nitrate in bombs, which exploded in various parts of the country, raised a debate on availability of the substance, primarily who used to make explosives and fertilisers.”
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Justice Sivagnanam said that bearing in mind the interest of national security, the Explosives department had thought it fit to restrict issuing import licenses in favour of Ammonium Nitrate users and rejected the application of the petitioner, a trader. “In my view, the restriction imposed is a reasonable restriction in the light of the fact that separate rules were framed for regulation of sale of ammonium nitrate, which has been specifically brought within the definition of an explosive substance. In such circumstances, this court is not inclined to interfere with the impugned order,” he said.

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