: The Madras High Court has ordered notice on a public interest litigation petition praying for a direction to the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, among others, to cancel the licences granted to petrol retail outlets on National Highways (NH) which are functioning without NOC from the Ministry.

The First Bench, headed by Acting Chief Justice R. K. Agrawal, said the notice would be returnable by four weeks.

The petitioner, C. R. Baskaran of T. Nagar here, who is also the president of “Neethiyin Kural Trust,” formed with the objective of raising the standard of living of the people, alleged that there were illegalities in granting permission/licences for establishing fuel retail outlets on the NH in Tamil Nadu. As per a Centre’s circular of September 25, 2003, owners of the outlets should obtain an NOC from the Union Road Transport Ministry before commencing their operations. The NOC is for an access road connecting the fuel outlet to the NH. The Tamil Nadu Highways Secretary had addressed letters to all Collectors, informing them that nearly 160 fuel stations were functioning along the NH in Salem, Sivaganga, Vellore, Nagapattinam and Thanjavur districts.

The Divisional Engineers of the NH Department issued show-cause notices to the violators, but till date no action had been taken. More than seven years had lapsed after the State Highways Secretary addressed all Collectors not to allow the operations of any petroleum outlet along the NH which had not obtained the NOC.