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HC questions fuel price hike sans public hearing

Published : 16 Aug 2022 11:42 PM | Updated : 17 Aug 2022 03:41 PM

The High Court has issued a rule asking the authorities concerned of the government to explain as to why the decision to increase fuel price through a gazette notification instead of holding a public hearing should not be declared illegal.

The HC bench of Justice Md Mojibur Rahman Mia and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo issued the rule on Tuesday (August 16) after hearing a writ petition that was filed challenging the legality of the latest hike in fuel prices in the country.

Secretary of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, chairman of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) and the other authorities concerned have been made respondents to the rule.

Supreme Court’s lawyer Advocate Md Eunus Ali Akond and Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua argued for the writ petition in the court, while deputy attorney general Arbinda Kumar Roy represented the state.

Earlier on August 8, the writ petition was filed with the High Court challenging the legality of the latest hike in fuel prices in the country.

The writ petition sought the directive of the High Court to stay the gazette issued by the Ministry of Energy, Power and Mineral Resources raising fuel prices.

Eunus Ali said that the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) has the authority to raise the fuel price according to the law. 

He also said that only the BERC can increase the prices of petroleum products after soliciting opinions from people through holding mass hearings under the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Act, 2003. The government cannot do it. But the fuel prices were increased through issuing a gazette by the ministry, he added.

According to that gazette, the decision was taken as per the order of the President. But the constitution does not give the President the authority to raise the fuel prices and for this reason the writ petition was filed, he added.

The government hiked the price of petroleum products by a big margin on August 5. Diesel prices were increased by Tk 34 to Tk 114 per litre while octane price was hiked by Tk 46 to Tk 135 and petrol by Tk 44 to Tk 130.

The highest rate hike in 20 years was effective overnight from the midnight of August 5.

Eunus Ali in the petition said that the unreasonable price hike of petroleum products will create a very adverse impact on the livelihood of common people, including the farmers and workers of the country.

He requested the HC to primarily issue a rule, asking the respondents to explain why the notification on fuel price hike should not be scrapped and to stay the effectiveness of the notification.

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