Wednesday, August 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Petrol station scam: HC relief to 2 allottees

New Delhi, August 13
The Delhi High Court today stayed the Centre’s omnibus notification cancelling petrol station and LPG dealership allotments in respect of two allottees, close on the heels of a similar order of the Rajasthan High Court.

Accepting the contention of two allottees of petrol station and LPG agency that the government cannot cancel genuine allotments by a sweeping order, the Delhi High Court today stayed operation of the Centre’s notification cancelling all allotments from the year 2000 in the case of the two allottees.

Granting an interim stay against the cancellation of the allotment of a petrol station to a woman in the Capital allotted under the open general category (OGC) and an LPG agency to a physically challenged ex-serviceman in Bareilly, Mr Justice Manmohan Sarin said “the status quo shall be maintained in their cases.”

Admitting the writ petitions of Ms Radhika Backliwal, given a petrol station in the Capital’s Wazirpur area and exserviceman Rathi Bhan Singh Rathour, allotted an LPG agency in Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, the court issued notices to the Centre, the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), directing them to file replies by September 6.

Both Ms Backliwal and Mr Rathour have sought quashing of the government’s cancellation order in their cases and the advisory sent to the oil companies by the Petroleum Ministry.

Counsel for the petitioners contended that the agreement of allotment between allottees and the oil companies could only be cancelled for non-performance of the deal, while senior advocate K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the IOC, submitted that the company had an agreement with the Centre and it was obliged to follow its directive.

While Ms Backliwal submitted that she was selected from among 195 competitors by the Dealership Selection Board (DSB) purely on merit and she neither had any political connection, nor any “influence” was applied, Mr Rathour said he was given the gas agency under the defence category.

Mr Rathour submitted that being physically challenged exserviceman with little means, he would be greatly affected by the Centre’s cancellation order as he had put his hard earned money, including the retiral benefits, into the LPG agency.

Ms Backliwal said there was no allegation of “unfairness” in the allotment in her case.

Meanwhile, the Centre has proposed to file a plea in the Supreme Court for clubbing the cases filed in various courts in the country against the cancellation of petrol stations’ dealerships and LPG and kerosene agencies by the government.

Discussions to this effect are being held in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and according to a move finalised by the government, if a large number of cases comes up before various high courts, a petition will be moved in the apex court for clubbing them, highly-placed sources said today.

The Petroleum Ministry is also in touch with the Law Ministry but it was not immediately clear whether the government would itself file the application or it would be filed through the oil companies. PTI, UNI

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