HC asks govt, oil retailers to justify petrol price hike

The Bombay High Court yesterday directed union petroleum and finance ministries as well as the three oil marketing companies to file an affidavit by 20 June in response to a petition that claimed that last week's steep hike in the prices of petrol was "illegal" as it lacked Parliament's approval and therefore violated the Constitution.

A bench of Justices R Y Ganoo and N M Jamdar ordered the respondents to file an affidavit explaining their stand on the issue. increasing the price of petrol.

Apart from the ministries, the respondents include Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd.

In a public interest litigation (PIL), Rajendra Phanse, general secretary of 'Dharmarajya Paksha', submitted that the petrol prices were hiked "abruptly" by Rs7.50 from midnight on 23 June, as soon as Parliament had been prorogued till the monsoon session.

Terming the hike as "undemocratic" since it was announced after the budget session was over, the petitioner argued that in the past, decisions like raising the rates of postal and telephone services used to be taken during the budget session of Parliament.

The petitioner further said that the hike was against the principles of natural justice, as it would affect the entire population of the country.