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Om Prakash Khurant v/s Indian Oil Corporation & Others

    Civil Writ Petition No. 12739 of 2010

    Decided On, 13 September 2011

    At, High Court of Rajasthan


    For the Petitioner: Lokesh Sharma, Advocate. For the Respondents: Ravindra Mathur, A.K. Bhargava, Sandeep Jain, Advocates.

Judgment Text

Alok Sharma, J.

1. The matter comes up on vacation of stay dated 20.10.2010 passed by this Court, but with consent of parties, it is being finally disposed of

2. This petition under Article 226 of the Constitution has been filed, challenging the order dated 11th January, 2010, whereby the petitioner was informed that he has not been found to be eligible for allotment of distributorship for setting up a LPG show-room and godown at village Duni, district Tonk, and further the order dated 20.5.2010, whereby representation of the petitioner against the order holding him ineligible for the dealership under the RGGLV has been dismissed.

3. Facts of the case relevant for decision of this petition are that an Advertisement dated 17th October, 2009 was issued in various News-papers, inviting applications for selection of distributors and grant of distributorship at various locations including village Duni District Tonk. The petitioner applied for the said distributorship.

4. As per the police guidelines/ Advertisement dated 17.10.200

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9, one of the criteria for eligibility of the applicants was that the applicant concerned should have suitable own land at the advertised RGGLV location for LPG go-down and show-room on the date of application. The word 'Own' was defined to mean, that the applicant should have clear ownership/title of the property in his own or that of his member i.e. 'Family Unit’. 'Family Unit' of a married applicant was defined in the published norms (Brochure) to mean as consisting of self, applicant's spouse and unmarried son(s)/daughter(s). In respect of a unmarried applicant, 'family unit' was defined under the published norms to consist of self, applicant's parents and applicant's unmarried brother(s)/ sister(s).

5. In the application moved by the petitioner, admittedly a married man, the details of the land set out clearly indicated that the land in issue over which the applicant intended to set up distributorship with the LPG godown and show-room was not in his own name but in the name of his father. In the application form, the petitioner admitted that he was a married man. Consequently, in view of the information provided by the applicant, the land neither belonged to the applicant nor to any member in his 'family unit' and accordingly the Selection Committee declared the applicant ineligible for the draw of selection. Petitioner was informed of this fact vide letter dated 11th January, 2010, giving him liberty to make any representation, if he so desired. No representation, however at the relevant time was made by the petitioner.

6. Respondent Indian Oil Corporation proceeded to consider other applicants found eligible for grant of distributorship at village Duni, District Tonk, under SC category. One Yogendra Kataria S/O Shri Kishan Lal of village Duni was chosen and a letter of intent in this regard was issued to him by the Indian Oil Corporation on 30th October, 2010. It appears that the petitioner rather than make a representation to IOC, approached this Court, challenging his exclusion from consideration for grant of dealership. This Court considered the matter and while refusing to interfere the writ petition or grant indulgence to the petitioner, vide order dated 4th May, 2010 directed the respondent IOC to examine the petitioner's representation as made under its direction and pass a speaking order within 15 days from the date of receipt of certified copy of the order. Decision on the representation so made was to be communicated to the petitioner thereafter.

7. Certified copy of the order passed by the High Court was received by the Indian Oil Corporation along with representation of the petitioner on or before 10th May, 2010.

8. As directed by the High Court in its order dated 4th May, 2010, the matter has been considered by the respondent IOC. It has been noticed in the course of consideration of the representation that the petitioner had submitted the application form for selection for grant of dealership at village Duni District Tonk under RGGLV and that it was evident from the application as also the representation made by the petitioner pursuant to the order of the High Court that the land was, on the face of the record and on petitioner's own admission, in the name of his father, Shri Ram Prasad. As per Instructions of the Advertisement/Brochure, the father of the petitioner did not fall within the meaning of 'family unit' of the applicant as the applicant was married. It was therefore concluded by the respondent IOC that since the land not being available in the name of the petitioner and/or his 'family unit', the petitioner was not eligible for RGGLV distributorship. The representation was thus dismissed vide order dated 20.5.2010.

9. I have heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the writ petition, its reply and the documents annexed thereto.

10. The case set up by the counsel for the petitioner before this Court is that even though the land in issue (where LPG distributorship, godown and show-room were to be set up), admittedly showed in his father's name, yet in view of the affidavit of his father submitted by the petitioner along with his application setting up the petitioner's ownership of the land on the basis of an oral partition purportedly entailing the petitioner's ownership and possession of 1/5th part of his father's land, he ought to have been found to be eligible. Counsel submitted that the affidavit of the petitioner's father with regard to oral partition ought to have sufficed for purposes of the condition of eligibility in terms of Instruction No. 3 which provided that the applicant ought to have owned the land in his own name or in the name of his wife or unmarried children.

11. On the other hand, learned counsel for the respondent Corporation submitted that the question of eligibility was to be strictly considered in terms of the Instructions contained in the Advertisement to the prospective applicants under the heading "Common eligibility Criteria for all Categories", wherein it was, inter-alia, provided that the applicant for the distributorship should own a suitable land (plot) of minimum 20 metre x 24 metre in dimension at the advertised RGGLV location for construction of LPG cylinder Storage Godown It has been pointed out that the instructions provided that 'own' means, having clear ownership title of the property in the name of applicant / family member of the 'family unit' as defined in multiple dealership/distributorship norms. In case of ownership/co-ownership by family member, it was provided that consent letter from the family member would be required. Counsel has referred to the definition of "family unit" which provided that in the case of a married applicant (as the petitioner in the instant case is), the "family unit" would consist of the individual concerned or his spouse and/or unmarried children. Based on the aforesaid norms of eligibility criteria and definitions, counsel for respondent IOC has submitted that the respondent Corporation has rightly come to the conclusion that the petitioner did not satisfy the eligibility criteria for consideration for grant of distributorship, inasmuch as admittedly the petitioner did not own land in his name or in the name of any member of his family in terms of the definition of "family unit".

12.Counsel for the respondents further submitted that the affidavit of the father of the petitioner filed in support of the petitioner's application form was of no avail, inasmuch as the said affidavit did not satisfy the eligibility as prescribed by the Indian Oil Corporation. It is further submitted that in any view of the matter the affidavit was also absolutely vague and without material particulars as neither the date of purported partition has been set out in the affidavit nor the purported partition was followed by entries in the revenue record reflecting the partition. It has also been pointed out that the petitioner's father Shri Ram Prasad continued to be reflected as Khatedar in the revenue record and his entire piece of land is mortgaged with the Bank of Baroda. In these circumstances, the counsel submitted that the affidavit of petitioner's father filed with the application was rightly held to be of no consequence.

13. I have considered the rival submissions and the material available on record. I am of the view that no error can be found either in the order dated January 11, 2010, whereby the petitioner was conveyed that he was found ineligible to be considered for grant of distributorship of LPG nor any error can be found in the order dated May 20, 2010 passed by the respondent Corporation, rejecting the petitioner's representation made in pursuance to the order of the High Court passed on 4th May, 2010 in Writ Petition No. 6328/2010.

14. The compass of the case is very narrow and the only issue is as to whether the petitioner was eligible for consideration and grant of distributorship of LPG at Village Duni, district Tonk. Eligibility for grant of distributorship had to be evaluated strictly in terms of the norms and instructions prescribed under the Brochure for selection of Rajiv Gandhi LPG Distributors. It is evident from the record that neither the petitioner nor any one of his family member falling under the definition of 'family unit' owned land on the date of application so as to entitle the applicant to have his application considered for grant of LPG dealership.

15. The affidavit of Ram Prasad, father of the petitioner, filed by the petitioner along with his application, in my considered opinion does not advance the case of the petitioner at all as it was not in the notified manner in which eligibility of the petitioner could have been evaluated. The affidavit of Ram Prasad is absolutely vague inasmuch as it does not transpire as to on which date he made the purported oral partition of his land among his sons. Had it been so, the land so divided should have been entered in the name of the petitioner and others in the revenue record accordingly. The land is still in the khatedri of Ram Prasad in the revenue records.

16. Therefore, it must be concluded that neither the petitioner nor any family member in his 'family unit' owned a suitable parcel land at the advertised location for LPG godown and show room on the date of application.

17. In view of what has been discussed above, I find no merit in the petition and the petition deserving dismissal, stands dismissed.

No order as to costs.

Writ petition dismissed.