Thursday, August 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

SC stays decision on petrol stations
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
The Supreme Court today stayed the Centre’s decision to cancel allotments of petrol stations, LPG and kerosene agencies.

A three-Judge Bench comprising Chief Justice B. N. Kirpal, Mr Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat made the cancellation orders ineffective by directing “status quo” as of August 9.

The court pulled up the Petroleum Ministry for taking a hasty decision to cancel the allotments without giving 3,000 allottees an opportunity to defend themselves.

“As a result thereof the dealers and distributors shall continue to operate their dealerships or distributorships as per their original contract or agreement with the oil companies concerned”, the three-Judge Bench said.

In response to Additional Solicitor-General Kirit Raval’s contention that the government had taken the decision after due deliberation, the Bench said “ sure you have taken the decision after due deliberation, but what prevented you from issuing a notice to a person before taking away his livelihood. Who will pay the instalments for repayment of loans he has taken”?

“If the reason for the cancellation is fraud we have no sympathy for them. But that is not the case here”, it said.

Welcoming the Supreme Court decision, Petroleum Minister Ram Naik said: “We will implement the order”.

He said the government would not immediately issue an Ordinance to cancel petrol stations, gas agencies and LPG dealerships allotted since January, 2000.

However, the Bench said the status quo order would not be applicable to 1,298 cases where the oil companies had issued only a Letter of Intent (LoI) to the dealers without commissioning of the petrol stations and the gas agencies of kerosene dealerships.

But to protect those who had been issued LoIs, the Bench restrained the government and the oil companies from transferring these LoIs to any other person.

The Bench, while fixing November 12 for final hearing of the matter, said the proceedings in all other petitions pending before the high courts would remain stayed during the pendency of the cases before the apex court.

With regard to the 463 allotments where the companies had taken the possession of the petrol stations and dealerships in pursuant to the August 9 decision, the Bench said, “We direct possession be restored to dealers who shall maintain proper account and continue to operate their respective business as per their original contract with the oil companies.”

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