By Hansa Sinha
Earlier this month at DGAD (Directorate General of Anti Dumping and Allied Duties), a new Designated Authority(DA) was welcomed. Mr. A K Bhalla, IAS (Meghalaya cadre). Previously, this post was held by Mr. JK Dadoo, IAS who had held this post while being a Joint Secretary for more than a year. As you all know that Designated Authority presides over the public hearings held in Anti Dumping and subsidies matters. Also it is he/she who issues the Final Findings too. Therefore it can be imagined that a sudden change in the post might shake things a little at the beloved government’s offices.
Prior to 2011, this would not be a concern and we would be discussing a final finding rather than the Designated Authority. But the judgment of ATMA vs. The Designated Authority changed this. As per the facts, the DA granted a public hearing to all the interested parties as per procedure. After successful completion of the public hearing in September, 2004, the officer functioning as DA who had conducted the investigations was transferred in the month of November, 2004. As we had discussed in one of the earlier posts, public hearing does not mark completion of the anti dumping investigations. It is followed by certain legal submissions, then disclosure statement inviting comments by the parties and finally the final finding. Well aware, a Chinese exporter requested for a fresh hearing which was denied to the effect that a disclosure statement was issued. It is in the civil appeal before the Supreme Court that it the issue was then addressed. It was held that it personal hearing by one and decision by another amounted to denial of audi alteram partem. The final order by the New Designated Authority was said to therefore violate principles of natural justice. Further, the findings were quashed as they were by the new DA.
Since then it is a practice that whenever a new Designated Authority is appointed then the investigations are repeated from the stage of Public hearing. Recently this took place in case of Plain Medium Density Fibre Board from China PR, Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. In this case the public hearing was held again and after completing all the procedural requirements the Final Finding was notified on 17th August. Thus natural justice was restored in conformity with the precedent. In this regard it can definitely be said that the ATMA judgment has become landmark in the field of Anti Dumping