Differential educational criteria for obtaining LPG dealership are not arbitrary under Art. 19 (1)(g)

Punjab and Haryana High Court: While deciding the question that whether the differential eligibility criteria of being a graduate for obtaining allotment for LPG dealership is arbitrary under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, the Court held that the notification bearing the requisite eligibility criteria is not arbitrary as the intelligible differentia here are the gradations dependent on educational qualifications and the object sought to be achieved is to empower section of people who are educated and who would also fulfill certain other norms relating to property holding identifying property for locating the business.

In the instant case the petitioner was aggrieved about the requisite educational qualifications for the purposes of applying for LPG dealership which required the applicant to be a graduate from any universities incorporated by the Centre or State Legislature or recognized under the UGC Act, 1956 etc. whereas the petitioner was a matriculate. The petitioner’s counsel Mr M.S. Sandhu contended that policy existing in 1928 for the dealership purposes allowed a matriculate to get LPG dealership and the eligibility criteria in question that has been introduced in 2013 violates the fundamental right guaranteed under Art. 19 (1)(g) and the reasonable restriction of interest of general public therefore should be imposed by the State, the Indian Oil Corporation has imposed such a restriction of eligibility, without there being any specific law pronounced by the State. Respondents were represented by Mr Brijeshwar Singh.

The Court on perusing the grievance of the petitioner observed that Art. 19 allows the freedom to practice any trade or profession without being restricted, but when it comes to avail a grant of State largesse from the State or its functionary then the reference has to be made under Art. 14. The Court further observed that differential educational criteria for dealership in LPG outlets in urban and rural areas are justified as such criterion does not involve restriction on freedom of profession under Art. 19. Vikas v. Union of India, Civil Writ Petition 28009 of 2013, decided on 17.09.2014

To read the full judgment, refer SCCOnLine

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