The Supreme Court Friday declined to entertain a plea challenging the deregulation of prices of petroleum products, saying fixing of petroleum prices was a matter of government policy and the court could not interfere in it.
The plea challenging the fixing of prices by the public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) was heard by an apex court bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice Swatanter Kumar.
“It is a policy and legislative matter. We will not interfere in it. The court will not engage itself in petroleum prices which are administered,” the court said.
The court asked senior counsel Upamanyu Hazarika “how will judicial review lie in the fixation of prices of petroleum products”.
Hazarika had appeared for the All India Youth Federation, the youth wing of Communist Party of India, which had moved the apex court seeking directions to government to go back to the administered pricing regime of petroleum products.
When the senior counsel said that prices of petroleum products should be decided by the regulatory authority and not the OMCs, the court said there was no plea “to that effect in your petition”.
The court asked the counsel to withdraw the petition and move a brief petition with a modified prayer.
Hazarika told the court there was a regulator under the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006 but the pricing of the petroleum products was not included in the list of notified areas to be covered under its jurisdiction.
At this, the court said: “Show us any judgment by which we can tell the government to include an item in the notified list.”
Having said this, the court dismissed the plea, saying it concerned the matter of policy which did not come under the domain of judicial review.