The High Court (HC) on Tuesday issued a rule asking government authorities concerned to explain why its decision to increase fuel prices without holding a public hearing should not be declared illegal.
The bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo gave the order after a hearing on a writ filed regarding the matter.
Secretary and deputy secretary to the energy division, and the chairman of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), were asked to respond to the rule within four weeks.
Advocate Eunus Ali Akond and Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua stood for the writ while Deputy Attorney General Arvind Kumar Roy appeared for the state.
In the court hearing, petitioner Eunus Ali Akond said the government violated the provisions of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Act by increasing the price of fuel oils, because there is a section in the law that calls for a public hearing before increasing prices. The government hiked the price without holding a public hearing, where BERC has the sole authority to increase the price of fuel oils.
Lawyer Barrister Jortimoy Barua said in court that there is no scope to increase the price of fuels without a public hearing, nor does the ministry have jurisdiction over setting prices. As such, the ministry has undermined BERC's power by raising prices.
Earlier on 8 August, Supreme Court lawyer Advocate Eunus Ali Akond filed a writ in the High Court challenging the validity of the hike in the price of fuel oils like diesel, petrol, kerosene, and octane.
The writ sought suspension, annulment, and withdrawal of the notification raising the fuel oil prices issued by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.
On 5 August, the government raised the price of diesel and kerosene 42.5 %, and petrol and octane by 51.1% and 51.7%, respectively.
The highest price hike in 20 years made diesel and kerosene costlier overnight by Tk34 per litre to Tk114, petrol by Tk44 to Tk130 per litre, and octane by Tk46 to Tk135.