Madhya Pradesh High Court: Vivek Agarwal, J. allowed the request of the petitioner granting NOC to establish a petrol retail outlet and quashed the intervener’s application in light of the Highway guidelines.
The present appeal arises from the orders dated 16-10-19 and 2-11-19 respectively. The petitioner in the case was aggrieved by the rejection of grant of NOC by the respondents to run their Retail Outlet. The facts of the case are that the petitioner’s application to establish a petrol and diesel pump retail outlet within two kilometres of Amlai bus stand was accepted, in response to advertisement issued by the first respondent. Subsequent to which, he had paid non-refundable fee of Rs. 15 lacs. Despite the petitioner obtaining the NOC from all relevant departments, a party having a petrol pump in proximity filed a writ petition challenging such allotment to the petitioner in Sarika Gupta v. Bharat Petroleum Co. Ltd., W.P. No. 12947 of 2019.
Following the suit, the request for NOC was rejected by the Collector.
The counsel on behalf of the petitioner submitted that in the present case, there was no mandatory requirement of any NOC from Madhya Pradesh Road Development Co. Ltd. (MPRDC) and so the application was rejected only due to a collusion with the intervener. He further submitted that the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways provide that there must be a minimum distance of 300 metres between two fuel stations on both sides of the Highway, which is only applicable for undivided carriageway in case of National Highways.
It was submitted by the counsel for the respondents that in Indian Oil Corpn. Ltd. v. Arti Devi Dangi, (2016) 15 SCC 480, the Supreme Court held that if the advertisement requires a tenderer to fulfil all the requisites of the P.W.D. provisions, suggested by the I.R.C., which are in public interest, it cannot be held that there was no specific mention of the same in the tender documents or are not statutorily binding.
The Court in its reasoning, held that the orders for rejection of the NOC were issued on whims and fancies, without considering the norms prescribed by the Highways Authority. And thus, maintained that the rival competitor’s objections were not to be entertained and that the case of Arti Devi Dangi, was not relevant in the context of the present case since, it had no mention of I.R.C guidelines, it was not a case of retail outlet establishment, and neither the conditions of the advertisement were similar in the two cases.
In light of the afore-mentioned facts, it was concluded that the Major District Road (MDR) was not subjected to the 300 metres Guidelines, since it was not a National or a State Highway. The alternative remedy was declared as in-efficacious and thus, the argument of the counsel for the petitioner was accepted and the impugned order was quashed.
The Court allowed the petition holding that the second respondent, Madhya Pradesh Road Development Co. Ltd. could not be allowed to argue beyond its pleadings and that there was no evidence to establish that terms of the advertisement in this case were different from the case in case of Arti Devi Dangi.
[Jay Shankar Kapoor v. Bharat Petroleum Co. Ltd., 2022 SCC OnLine MP 1761 , decided on 14-07-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Ashok Lalwani, Advocate, For the Appellant;
Kapil Jain, Siddharth Shrivastava, Advocates, For the Respondents.