Customers not Bound to buy Gas Stove with LPG Connection
TNI Bureau: Putting a full stop to the 5 year long speculation, The Competition Appellate Tribunal (COMPAT) has ruled out the state-run oil marketing companies viz. IOC, HPCL and BPCL to not to compel their new, LPG connections seeking customers, to forcibly buy a gas stove from their own channel partners.
HPCL, IOC and BPCL are the foremost companies in the business of providing cooking fuel LPG connections through their brands HP Gas, Indane and Bharat Gas, respectively. However, to probe some alleged abuses of monopoly by these oil companies, a probe was initiated in 2007 by the Director General of Investigations and Registrations (DGIR).
At par with this probe the previous commission, which was taking care of these matters, the MRTPC (Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission) had passed an interim order on February 19, 2009 in support of the abuse, restricting the oil-companies to not to force their customer to buy a gas stove from their partner companies, but to allow them complete independence to have their own choice in this context.
Even, the Commission had asked the oil market companies at that time to file an undertaking that customers should have an independent choice of purchase of stoves from any shops and not necessarily from the LPG dealers. The companies were also asked to give public notice about the same.
Then, in May 2009 the MRTPC was replaced by Competition Commission of India (CCI) and then again by COMPAT, the Competition Appellate Tribunal. But despite all these above developments practically it was not abided and the MRTPC got complains from a number of firms that the oil PSUs were abusing their dominant position in the market by compelling their dealers to sell the products of only their channel partners. Accordingly, MRTPC had asked its investigation limb DGIR to investigate the matter. Finally, recently on August 13, 2012 COMPAT passed the final order upholding the interim order.
The matter related to cooking gas is very much important as this is directly linked to one of the basic necessities, the food. But taking the advantage, the concerned companies have irrationally earned huge, playing monopoly. But the present order should be practically abided by the said three companies to set aside the probability of a worst condition in future.