Rashid Paul

HC rules against guidelines violating J&K laws for petrol dealership allotments

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Srinagar, May 02: The J&K High Court on Thursday directed that the guidelines by Government of India-owned oil companies which make citizens of India as the state-subjects of J&K under its Income Tax Rules shall not be given effect in respect of the applicants for petrol dealerships in the state.

Hearing a petition on the allotment of 628 retail outlet dealerships in J&K, Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Tashi Rabstan directed “Clause (IV) of the guidelines incorporated in the advertisement (2018) notices shall not be given effect in respect of the applicants who are not fulfilling the requirements in tune with the local laws.”

The bench further directed “the respondent Corporations shall only process the cases of applicants who are adhering to the provisions of the local laws with reference to ownership or transfer of land”.

The bench declined to stay the process of allotment of dealerships in J&K saying “the petitioners are already having outlet dealership at different sites of the state.”

The court in order to ensure adherence to the constitutional scheme and that the local laws having reference to the ownership rights of the properties of the subjects in the State of J&K rendered the Clause IV of the guidelines incorporated in the advertisement as ineffective for the applicants who are not fulfilling the requirements as per J&K laws.

The court also issued notices returnable within a week to all the respondents including public sector oil companies and various authorities of the State and Central governments.

Caveats, as lodged, were also discharged by the court. The matter has been listed on 4th of June, 2019.

The petitioner’s counsel M A Qayoom agitated against Clause IV of the guidelines dealing with common eligibility for all categories of applicants.

He submitted that the guidelines have made a citizen of India/resident of India, defined in terms of the Income Tax Rules, as eligible for applying for allotment of retail outlet dealership in Jammu and Kashmir, without being a subject of the state as also without having ownership of any land in the state by fulfilling the condition of land offered in terms of Clause V.

He termed the procedure as illegal, saying it violates the local laws and constitutional scheme of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

He also said that the advertisement notices for appointment of regular/rural outlet (gas stations) dealership at various locations in J&K is in violation of the guidelines of 2009 and 2013, which lay down the criteria, qualification and eligibility for regular and rural outlets, and are time-tested.

He pleaded that the guidelines and the advertisement notices are having the effect of violating the provisions of Sections 3 and 4 of the Jammu and Kashmir Land Alienation of Land Act Svt. 1995.

The lawyer said the guidelines are in contravention of Section 6 which deals with permanent residentship of J&K.

The section, he said “says that every person who is, or is deemed to be a citizen of India under the provisions of the Constitution of India shall be permanent resident of the State, if on the fourteenth day of May, 1954— (a) he was a state-subject of Class I or Class II; or (b) having lawfully acquired immovable property in the state, he has been ordinarily resident in the state for not less than ten years prior to that date.”

The guidelines as well as the advertisements are aimed at indirect conferment of state-subject rights on those individuals who are not the subjects of the state, he claimed.

“If such a scheme is allowed it will definitely violate the rights of the subjects of the State of Jammu and Kashmir as guaranteed to them under the Constitution of the J&K as well as the Constitution of India,” he said.

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