Single Judge order on dual pricing of diesel quashed
The first bench of the Madras High Court on Monday set aside an interim order of a single judge restraining the Union Ministry of Petroleum and the oil marketing companies from charging a higher price for diesel sold to state-run transport corporations.
The bench comprising Acting Chief Justice RK Agrawal and Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar quashed Justice S Rajeswaran’s order dated March 14 this year while allowing a writ appeal from the ministry.
Justice Rajeswaran had granted the injunction while passing interim orders on a writ petition from the Tamil Nadu government.
The main prayer was to declare the diesel price hike to the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporations up to Rs 11.81 per litre and private bunks up to 55 paise per litre as wholly arbitrary, and unconstitutional and to withdraw the dual pricing policy or in the alternative, exempt the transport corporations from the category of bulk consumers and treat them as retail customers for purpose of diesel pricing.
Aggrieved, the petroleum ministry preferred the present writ appeal. Additional Solicitor General P Wilson submitted that the policy decision of the Union Government taken on January 17 this year, could not be challenged.
The single judge had not considered the prima facie case, i.e. balance of convenience, irreparable loss and the hardship being suffered by the ministry.
Moreover, the interim order was a non-speaking one, the bench felt.
Allowing the appeal, the bench pointed out that the single judge had not assigned any reason while passing the interim injunction nor had considered the question of prima facie balance, as contended by the Solicitor General.
Therefore, the March 14 order of the single judge could not be sustained in law and was liable to be set aside. The bench, however, observed that a policy decision of the government could be interfered with.
However, this particular question was yet to be gone into by the single judge in the writ petition, the bench said and remitted the matter back to Justice S Rajeswaran.