The High Court has asked the authorities concerned to explain in four weeks why their issuing of new licences to freight forwarding businesses owned by foreigners and renewing of the entities’ expired licences should not be declared illegal.
It also sought to know why the authorities continue to provide such new licences and stop the renewals despite a government order barring so. The order, which was issued on Tuesday, came following the hearing of a writ petition filed by Monoj Sen Gupta, chairman of Awesome Network Limited, on November 7.
The petition mentioned of a directive, namely a statutory regulatory order (SRO), of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) of 2008, which allowed freight forwarding businesses wholly owned by foreigners to be registered in the country.
The SRO was amended in 2015 to allow foreigners to form freight forwarding businesses only in joint venture with Bangladeshis. The foreigners’ stakes in joint venture can be a maximum of 40 percent.
The petition stated that the 2015 SRO had no bar on the licences of wholly foreign-owned entities existing at that time to complete their validity period.
However, the authorities continued to issue new licences to freight forwarding businesses wholly owned by foreigners and renew their old ones in violation of the 2015 SRO, said the petition while challenging the legality of such acts.
The respondents to the rule include the finance and law secretaries and chairmen of the NBR and licensing boards of customs houses at Dhaka, Chattogram, Mongla, Dhaka inland container depot and Pangaon.
The High Court bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman passed the order.
Barrister Aneek R Haque represented the writ petitioner, while Deputy Attorney General Tushar Kanti Roy stood for the state.