Kochi: Flaying the frequent hike in petrol prices, the Kerala High Court on Friday said Central and state governments cannot "wash their hands" off and directed the Indian Oil Corporation and Reliance Petroleum to produce their balance sheets and quarterly reports before it in three weeks.
Within the last one year, there had been a 40 percent hike in petroleum prices, causing immense hardhship to the common man, a division bench, comprising Acting chief justice CN Ramachandran Nair and justice PS Gopinathan, said in oral observations.
When a PIL by former MP PC Thomas against the frequent petrol price hikes came up, it said "political parties are making protests. There is no consumer resistance. They are getting adjusted to frequent hikes. We are concerned about the price hike."
The court said the hike mainly affects two-wheeler riders and small car owners and not the rich as they owned premium diesel cars. When the state government counsel said the PIL was politically motivated, the court said politics involves public interest also and admitted it.
The bench also directed the central and state governments to file their counter affidavits in three weeks, besides asking state-owned IOC and Reliance Petroleum to produce their balance sheets and quarterly reports.
The court, however, said granting authority for fixing prices of petroleum products is a policy matter of the central government and it cannot interfere in the present hike.
Earlier, Thomas had filed a PIL challenging frequent hikes and the grant of authority to oil companies to fix the prices. The oil companies had again decided to increase the price of petrol, the petitioner noted and sought that the hike be stayed, which was not allowed by the court.
Since the price hike is a national issue, the court cannot stay the present hike, it said.