High Court directs LPG distributors to deliver cylinders to consumer’s doorsteps

Gangtok, 20 Nov:

The High Court of Sikkim today ordered LPG distributors of the State to deliver filled cylinders to the registered address of the consumers without charging any additional transportation cost. At present, the people of Sikkim need to pay almost Rs 300 extra to porters due to non-delivery of LPG cylinder by the distributors as opposed to the practice of home delivery of LPG cylinders in other States of India.

The HC directive came during the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation filed by one Prem Goyal alleging that the State Food & Civil Supplies & Consumers Affairs Department and LPG distributors of Sikkim are charging transportation cost from consumers in violation of the norms of Indian Oil Corporation Limited.

The division bench headed by Chief Justice Vijai Kumar Bist and Justice Bhaskar Raj Pradhan on 19 Nov stated that LPG distributors are bound to deliver filled cylinders on the registered address of the consumers residing in the normal area without taking any additional money.

Senior citizen and a member of the business community of Sikkim,Prem Goyal, had approached the High Court seeking court directions to ensure delivery of refilled LPG cylinders at the registered address of the consumers as mandated by IOCL adding that the Food and Civil Supplies & Consumer’s Affairs Department, Government of Sikkim, has also violated IOCL norms by issuing notification for levying extra transportation cost on consumers.

The State Food and Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs department vide its notification imposes transportation charges of Rs 27 beyond 500 meter to 10 Kms, Rs 42 beyond 10 kms to 25 Kms, Rs 57 beyond 25 kms to 40 Kms and Rs 77 exceeding 40 kms in radius.

The bench while passing the order said that “…whether from 1st December, 2018 they will deliver the filled cylinders to the consumers without taking any additional money in all district headquarters of four districts,” and directed the counsels of the LPG distributors to seek instructions in this regard.

The distributors are getting subsidies from the IOCL for delivery of LPG cylinder to the doorsteps of the consumers.

The Liquefied Petroleum Gas [Regulation of Supply and Distribution] Order 2000 mandated the delivery of LPG Cylinder at the registered address of the consumers and have not authorized that any distributor shall sell liquefied petroleum gas at a higher price than the price fixed by the Government Oil Company or the parallel marketer.

The Regulation of Supply and Distribution Order 2000, Section 9,sub-section [e] also says that “No distributors shall without priorwritten permission of the concerned Government Oil Company, refuse tomake home delivery at the registered address of the consumer, as registered with the distributor: Provided that the State Government may, fix additional charges for home delivery of LPG Cylinders to the consumers, as it may deem necessary in view of the geographical terrain and or the distance in the area of distribution”.

The State has been using the latter half of this subsection to levy extra costs on consumers. It may be mentioned that even after levying the extra transportation costs on consumers, home delivery of LPG cylinders is still not carried out.

IOCL, Kolkata in its RTI replies to the petitioner clearly stated that all the Regular LPG Distributors of IOCL are required to supply refill on home delivery basis to all registered customers residing intheir respective operating areas advised by Oil Marketing Companies,for which customer has to pay the Retail Selling Price of LPG refills in that market which is inclusive of delivery charges. Only under exceptional conditions, filled cylinders deliveries on cash-on-carry basis [non-home delivery] from regular LPG distributors are permitted,wherein the delivery charges [currently] of Rs 18 per 14.2 kg cylinder will not be charged.

The petitioner has also pleaded to the High Court to issue writ of mandamus to make the rate of the LPG cylinders equal in all the States.