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SC cancels 297 petrol, kerosene outlets
Allotments ‘tainted’
S. S. Negi
Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 11
The Supreme Court today gave approval to the cancellation of 297 allotments of petrol stations and kerosene outlets, made by the previous NDA government, found "tainted" by a two-member judicial committee recommending the setting aside of all of them.

A Bench of Mr Justice Y. K. Sabharwal and Mr Justice D. M. Dharmadhikari said none of these cases would be reopened. "There is no question of reopening them, the matter stands cleared," the court said.

The committee, comprising former Supreme Court Judge S. C. Agrawal and former Delhi High Court Judge P. K. Bahri, had examined all 409 allotments and recommended the cancellation of 297 as they had been found to be made to ineligible candidates, the Bench said.

The panel, which was set up by the apex court in 2000, had submitted its report on September 29 last.

"The committee in all had considered 409 cases of allotment and recommended that 297 are 'tainted' as the selection of candidates could not be said to be made on merit, or that allottees did not fulfil the selection criteria of eligibility," the court said after perusing the report.

The committee was appointed by the Supreme Court to scrutinise the allotments after the Vajpayee government had cancelled over 3,000 allotments in 2000 in the wake of a national daily publishing a series of articles alleging that the then Petroleum Minister, Mr Ram Naik, had made allotments to many BJP and Sangh Parivar sympathisers in "violation" of rules.

Since the allottees had challenged the government order cancelling all allotments in one stroke without examining them on merit in various high courts, the Supreme Court had ordered the transfer of all such cases to it and constituted the committee to examine them on merit.

When counsel for various affected parties sought copies of the voluminous report, the court ordered the Registry to make it available to them on payment.

When some counsel insisted that the report should be reconsidered, the court rejected the plea, saying it could not be permitted.

But the Bench said it certainly would consider the fact whether the guidelines laid down by the committee for the cancellation of the allotments were within the parameters of the questions referred to it by the apex court.

The court said the voluminous report was in two parts, the first dealing with general guidelines and the second with the allotments made in different states.

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