The Kerala High Court on Friday adjourned to next week the hearing on a petition filed by the Seafood Exporters Association of India seeking a directive to India Gateway Terminal Private Ltd, operator of the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT), Vallarpadom, to enforce the directive of the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) to issue bills of terminal handling charges (THC) directly to exporters and shippers as per the rates fixed by the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP).

Justice P.R. Ramachandra Menon adjourned the hearing to enable the port trust and the terminal operator to get instructions on the petition.

The court had earlier directed the CPT to look into the grievances of the association that the charges collected from exporters were higher than the rates fixed by TAMP. The court had also ordered that if there was any substance in the grievances, the CPT should take remedial action.

The association said in its petition that at a meeting convened by the CPT on July 18 following the directive, the terminal operators had said that the charges were collected in accordance with TAMP rates. The operators had told the meeting that the higher charges were billed by steamer agents. It was against this backdrop that the CPT issued a directive to the operators to issue bills of THCs directly to exporters and shippers. The petition said that the operators had not taken any step to comply with the directive. The practice of issuing bills through steamer agents still continued, charging exorbitant amounts. The association alleged that the operators refused to implement the CPT directive despite repeated reminders, because the operators were hand in glove with the steamer agents' association.

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