Petrol dealers take aim at Mukesh Ambani

Vol 14, PW 5 (26 Aug 10) People & Policy

Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani can expect trouble from angry fuel dealers in Gujarat who want their franchise deposits back.

PETROWATCH learns at least 10 petrol pump dealers will file police complaints against Ambani and Reliance. “We have taken legal counsel,” says Sunil Golwala, president of the Gujarat Reliance Petrol Pump Dealers Association.

“At least 10 dealers will file FIRs (First Information Reports) against Reliance at police stations in Ahmedabad in the first week of September. Our lawyers are studying a similar FIR filed against Reliance by a dealer in Kerala.

” Reliance dealers have been asking since January to be released from the company’s loss-making fuel business and accuse Reliance of causing “mental torture” and “intentional business losses.” At 3pm on August 20, local police arrested 45 dealers at Reliance’s Ahmedabad corporate HQ.

“Reliance called us there to collect our ‘clean exit’ documents (signalling an end to the business relationship),” complains Golwala. “But a strong police presence awaited us when we arrived.

” Police arrested the dealers under sections 144 and 188 of the Indian Penal Code for “unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapons” and disobeying “the order of a public servant.” They were taken in police vans to the Ellis Bridge police station and then to the residence of a local judge.

“We got them released only by around 9.30pm,” he adds, “by running around and submitting ‘sureties.’” In July and August this year, 106 petrol pump dealers in Gujarat submitted their ‘sale exit’ letters to Reliance to scrap their dealership agreements.

“(Reliance group president) Parimal Nathwani promised us ‘clean exit’ documents by August 15,” we are told, “but Reliance did not even allow us to enter the building on August 20 so we had no alternative but to sit outside the office.” When contacted by this report, Reliance refused to comment.

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