The Delhi High Court on Wednesday disposed of a PIL against daily fluctuation of petrol and diesel prices in India that sought to fix a "fair price” for those commodities. 

The petitioner argued that petrol and diesel were essential commodities and that their prices could not be left to the "whims and fancies" of state-run oil companies. The high court directed the Central government to treat the plea only as a representation.

A bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said the petitioner had not complained to the Centre about the issue and a prima facie reading of the Essential Commodities Act does not indicate that it is mandatory for the Centre to fix fuel prices.

For the past two days, there has been no change in fuel prices across the country. However, in July alone, petrol and diesel rates were hiked nine times, while they were reduced only once. In Delhi, petrol price was cut by 11 paise per litre while diesel was reduced by 14 paise on Monday. 

Recently, the government’s move to reduce petrol by a mere one paisa per litre was met with anger and ridicule. The cut in petrol price came after a 19-day freeze in May.

India’s fuel rates depend on international crude oil prices and the value of the rupee vis-a-vis the US dollar. As on Wednesday, a barrel of crude oil cost $71.66. The 52-week low of crude oil price was $48.17 while the highest during that period was $80.

On a few occasions, despite falling prices in the international market, fuel rates have not decreased in India, which led many to question the government’s move.

The petition, filed by Pooja Mahajan - a designer from Delhi - through advocate A Maitri, alleged the government was indirectly controlling fuel prices. The petitioner wanted the present mechanism of daily fixation of fuel prices to be held unconstitutional and said the government should be directed to fix a "fair price" for their sale.