A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday reserved its order on the appeals of three public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) challenging a single judge’s interim directive to sell high-speed diesel (HSD) to KSRTC at the retail price, instead of the higher price fixed for bulk consumers.
When the appeals came up for hearing, Parag P. Tripathi, the Supreme Court lawyer appearing for the oil companies, contended that the single judge should not have passed the directive as it was in the realm of policy. The counsel argued that the bulk consumers formed a separate class of consumers and as such, they could not be treated on a par with retail consumers. In fact, the bulk consumers such as KSRTC were supplied diesel on 45 days’ credit, while the retail consumer had to pay the price right at the time of purchase. The KSRTC owed over ₹123 crore rupees to the three OMCs for the diesel already supplied..
Dushyant Dave, the Supreme Court Lawyer appearing for the KSRTC, submitted that the public sector undertaking was treated in a hostile manner by other public sector companies by selling the diesel at a price higher than the retail price.
The action of the companies amounted to hostile discrimination, and therefore, violated Article 14 of the Constitution. In fact, the oil marketing companies were abusing their monopolistic position. The KSRTC was incurring a loss of ₹85 lakh a day, and the loss would increase following the demand of higher price for HSD, he contended.