The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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SC seeks oil scam details

New Delhi, Aug. 26: The Supreme Court today sought details of the petrol pump, gas and kerosene dealerships allegedly doled out as largesse to BJP and Sangh parivar supporters and ordered the case to resume on Wednesday.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice B.N. Kirpal, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice Arijit Pasayat asked for details of the 483 pumps, gas agencies and kerosene dealerships that were taken over by state-run oil companies after the Centre cancelled all allotments made from January 2000.

Using discretionary powers, the NDA government had allotted 3,546 dealerships to benefit BJP and Sangh supporters.

The exposé forced Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to cancel the allotments. An Ordinance to that effect was prepared but withdrawn at the last minute on Saturday.

The government went to the Supreme Court last week contending that petitions filed in the high courts should be clubbed and heard together by the apex court so that conflicting verdicts could be avoided.

The apex court bench today said details were necessary to “determine what kind of interim orders were needed to be passed in the case”.

It also expressed inability to go through the 3,500-odd allotments and asked the Centre to come up with a “representative few” in each category of dealership.

Of the 3,565 allotments made after January 1, 2000, oil companies have taken over 483 pumps and agencies.

But an anomalous situation has engulfed the “takeover”. In some cases, the land on which a pump or agency operated also belonged to the allottee and after the cancellation of the allotment, it has been taken away.

Some pumps and agencies operated on leased land and in such cases, too, the land has been taken over.

Solicitor general Harish Salve, appearing for the union government, said due to the controversy over the allotments made by the oil selection boards, the prime minister decided on August 5 to cancel all allotments from January 2000 and necessary orders were issued on August 9.

In certain other cases there were genuine allottees like war widows, ex-service men, handicap quota persons. They complained take over of their dealerships and raised objections to the oil companies' action of take over.


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