SRINAGAR The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed Government of India and Public Sector Oil Companies to allot 628 Outlet Retail Dealerships in Jammu and Kashmir in tune with the local laws only.
Having considered the rival submissions of the learned appearing counsel for the parties on the subject, we are not inclined to stay the process of allotment of 628 Outlet Retail Dealerships in the state of J&K merely because the petitioners are already having Outlet Dealership at different sites of the State but in order to ensure adherence to the Constitutional Scheme and the local laws having reference to the ownership rights of the properties of the subjects in the State of J&K, we direct that Clause (IV) of the guidelines incorporated in the advertisement notices shall not be given effect in respect of the applicants who are not fulfilling the requirements in tune with the local laws, said a division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad and Tashi Rabstan.
The respondent Corporations shall only process the cases of applicants who are adhering to the provisions of the local laws with reference to ownership or transfer of land, the court said.
The petitioners Habibullah Mir and othershave called in question the decision of the Government of India and Public Sector Oil Companies relating to opening of 65000 new retail outlets including in the State of J&K as also the impugned guidelines of 2018 and advertisement notices published in local dailies. Inter alia, they challenged it on the grounds that Government of India and its Public Sector Oil Companies have decided to establish 65000 new Retail Petrol Outlets throughout India including the State of J&K ahead of State and Parliamentary Elections, so as to nearly double the existing network without assessment, feasibility and viability which is bound to affect the environment and also the land use.
The Government of India and its Public Sector Oil Companies have issued the advertisement notices for appointment of regular/ rural outlet (Petrol Pumps) dealership at various locations in the State of J&K in violation of the guidelines of 2009 and 2013, which lay down the criteria, qualification and eligibility for regular and rural outlets and are time tested.
The proposed establishment of the retail outlets are bound to have an adverse impact on the existing land use, its degradation, deforestation and will add to the fuel emission, air, water and noise pollution, causing thereby danger to the very life of human beings.
The proposed establishment of the retail outlets, the petitioners said, is bound to affect the dealers commission, operating costs, salary and wages of their employees and staff, production loss, LFR recovery, operating cost, stock loss, working capital, repair and maintenance, dealers remunerations, bank charges, customer service etc. and is against the policy of the Government of India with reference to various issued raised by Retail Outlet dealers of Oil Marketing Companies constituted in 2010.
The National Green Tribunal, New Delhi, has also taken a serious note of the increase in number of Petrol Pumps across India and has directed a committee comprising officials from the Ministry of Petroleum and the Central Pollution Control Board to look into the matter and submit its report before the Tribunal by 30th of April, 2019.
The petitioners said that the guidelines of 2018 are against the provisions of J&K Land Revenue Act which provide that no land which grows or has been growing shali crop, vegetables or saffron lullies, shall be used for any purpose other than agriculture purpose, without permission in writing of the Revenue Minister.
The Guidelines of 2018, however, only provided for offering the land which has to be classified into three categories, without indicating the mandatory condition of Land Revenue Act while offering such land, the petitioners said.
The decision to establish retail outlets in J&K State is also diametrically opposite to the Master Plan which provide that building units use as filling stations shall comply with Petroleum Rules, 1976 and the guidelines lines and the advertisement notices are also against State Subject Laws.