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Delhi HC refuses to intervene on fuel price

Bench says it is government policy

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to take up a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking the sale of petrol and diesel at reasonable prices.

Daily change in fuel prices was an “economic policy decision” of the Central government and the courts must remain away from it, a Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V.K. Rao said.

The Bench made it clear it was not inclined to interfere with the government’s decision, saying “there are larger economic issues” involved.

“It is an economic policy matter of the government. There are larger economic issues. The courts must remain away from it. Government may do it [fix a fair price]. We cannot issue a mandamus [direction] to them to do it,” the court said.

The Bench was hearing a petition by a Delhi-based designer, Puja Mahajan, challenging the daily rise in fuel rates and seeking a direction to the Centre to fix a fair price for petrol and diesel by treating them as essential commodities.

‘No reply yet’

The petition, filed through advocate A. Maitri, also claimed that Ms. Mahajan’s representation to the Central government on the price issue has not yet been decided.

The court, thereafter, directed the Central government to decide the representation within four weeks and listed the matter for hearing on November 16.

The petition has alleged that the government had “indirectly given implied consent” to oil marketing companies (OMCs) to hike fuel prices at their “whims and fancies.”

“The government is not playing its true role which it ought to have played but instead of that it has given an open hand to these oil companies to exploit the public at large and to charge/demand enhanced prices by assuming and presuming the cost of crude oil at the international level,” the plea said.

The petitioner also alleged that the oil companies had stopped increasing the prices when the Karnataka election campaign was going on.

“There is no explanation on the part of government/OMCs that why the fuel prices remained static for approximately 22 days during the Karnataka elections. This factual position do establish that the government is indirectly controlling the fuel prices and do establish that fuel prices have some connection with the elections,” the plea added.

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