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HC directs Bharat Petroleum to pay Rs. 1 lakh
The Hindu, December 10, 2018


NEW DELHI: ‘For extending litigation against petrol pump dealer, his legal heirs for no valid reasons’

The Delhi High Court has imposed a cost of Rs. 1 lakh on Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited for extending litigation against a petrol pump dealer and his legal heirs for “no valid reasons” since 1991.

Justice Valmiki J. Mehta directed the public sector undertaking to reconstitute the petrol pump dealership in favour of the legal heirs without disturbing their possession with respect to the petrol pump named Airport Service Station at Kalkaji.


Fresh agreement

The petrol pump was originally run by one Shyam Sunder Gupta.

Later, a fresh agreement was executed between Bharat Petroleum, Shyam and his wife Nirmal Gupta to reconstitute the licensee firm by inducting one G.D. Sehgal.

In January 1991, a representation was given to Bharat Petroleum that the two partners — Shyam and Nirmal — had retired from the partnership firm and the partnership business was being carried on in the name of Promila Kishore, the daughter of Sehgal.

Bharat Petroleum, however, for reasons best known to it did not take any steps on the proposal. Sehgal died in December 2002. The two other partners — Shyam and Nirmal — also died in 2005.

Bharat Petroleum, instead of drawing out a proper dispensing and pump and selling license agreement in the name of Ms. Kishore, appointed her only as a “temporary dealer”.

This was challenged by the petitioner before the court, which had in September 2018, held that Ms. Kishore should have been appointed as a regular dealer. Bharat Petroleum then moved the High Court against the verdict.

The court remarked that the “present is not a case where there is any fraud or cheating in getting the dealership licence or there is any fraud or cheating in continuing the dealership or that the dealership being illegally transferred to a third person”.


‘Highly unfortunate’

The judge noted that it was “highly unfortunate” that Bharat Petroleum, which is a PSU, had been harassing the petitioner by not only refusing to grant the dealership agreement but by filing an appeal against a reasoned trial court order.

The court also directed that a copy of this judgment be placed before the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the board of directors of Bharat Petroleum so as to show how its officers are “unnecessarily harassing common citizens of this country for no valid reasons, whatsoever”.

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