Balancing act required on diesel deregulation to shield SRTCs: SC

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 20 2013, 11:04am hrs
The Supreme Court has said that a balancing act is required as the Centres policy decision to deregulate prices of diesel supplied to bulk consumers of public utility services will hit state road transport corporations, which are already in dire straits.

A bench headed by Justice RM Lodha refused to stay the orders of the high courts of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, saying any order in favour of the three oil marketing companies (OMCs) would affect ailing state road transport corporations (SRTCs).

We need to find out arrangements as this is causing hardship to both the sides. Their (SRTCs) hardship would result in burdening the commuting public. We don't want you (OMCs) to bleed and SRTCs to sink. So both need to survive, the apex court observed. The OMCs, the court observed, are reeling under higher cost of crude oil imports due to the

weak rupee.

The ailing Kerala State Road Tranport Corporation argued that exemption from the price deregulation could serve the larger interest of society by providing economical transport to the public.

The ministry had authorised OMCs to increase the retail selling prices of diesel by 40-50 paise per litre per month (excluding VAT as applicable in different states/ union territories) until further orders.

Earlier, another bench had restrained the high courts from hearing petitions challenging the policy decision to deregulate prices of diesel supplied to bulk consumers of public utility services such as state transport corporations and the railways.

Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran and counsel Amit Meharia, appearing for OMCs, had sought transfer of the petitions to the apex court from different HCs, which are hearing pleas against the petroleum ministrys decision to charge bulk consumers more as per its new dual-pricing policy of January 17, this year.