Petroleum products are used as raw materials in various sectors and industries such as transport and petrochemicals. These products may also be used in factories to operate machinery or generators. Any fluctuation in the price of petrol and diesel impacts the production and transport costs of various items. When compared to other neighbouring countries, India has the highest prices for petrol and diesel.
Note: Prices as on April 1, 2018. Prices for India pertain to Delhi.
Sources: Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas; PRS.
How is the price of petrol and diesel fixed?
Historically, the price of petrol and diesel in India was regulated, i.e. the government was involved in the deciding the retail price. The government deregulated the pricing of petrol in 2010 and diesel in 2014. This allowed oil marketing companies to determine the price of these products, and revise them every fortnight.
Starting June 16, 2017, prices for petrol and diesel are revised on a daily basis. This was done to with the idea that daily revision will reduce the volatility in retail prices, and protect the consumer against sharp fluctuations. The break-up of retail prices of petrol and diesel in Delhi on April 25, 2018 can be found below. As seen in the table, over 50% of the retail price of petrol comprises central and states taxes and the dealer’s commission. In case of diesel, this amount is close to 40%.
Table 1: Break-up of petrol and diesel prices in Delhi (on April 25, 2018)
|Rs/litre||% of retail price||Rs/litre||
% of retail price
|Price Charged to Dealers||35.7||48%||38.4||58%|
|Excise Duty (levied by centre)||19.5||26%||15.3||23%|
|VAT (levied by state)||15.9||21%||9.7||15%|
Does India produce enough petroleum to support domestic consumption?
India imports 84% of the petroleum products consumed in the country. This implies that any change in the global prices of crude oil has a significant impact on the domestic price of petroleum products. In 2000-01, net import of petroleum products constituted 75% of the total consumption in the country. This increased to 95% in 2016-17. The figure below shows the amount of petroleum products consumed in the country, and the share of imports.
Note: Production is the difference between the total consumption in the country and the net imports.
Sources: Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell; PRS.
What has been the global trend in crude oil prices? How has this impacted prices in India?
Over the last five years, the global price of crude oil (Indian basket) has come down from USD 110 in January 2013 to USD 64 in March 2018, having touched a low of USD 28 in January 2016.
While there has been a 42% drop in the price of global crude over this five-period, the retail price of petrol in India has increased by 8%. During this period, the retail price of diesel increased by 33%. The two figures below show the trend in prices of global crude oil and retail price of petrol and diesel in India, over the last five years.
How has the excise duty on petrol and diesel changed over the last few years?
Under the Constitution, the central government has the powers to tax the production of petroleum products, while states have the power to tax their sale. Petroleum has been kept outside the purview of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), till the GST Council decides.
Over the years, the central government has used taxes to prevent sharp fluctuations in the retail price of diesel and petrol. In the past, when global crude oil prices have increased, duties have been cut. Since 2014, as global crude oil prices declined, excise duties have been increased.
Sources: Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell; PRS.
As a consequence of the increase in duties, the central government’s revenue from excise on petrol and diesel increased annually at a rate of 46% between 2013-14 and 2016-17. During the same period, the total sales tax collections of states (from petrol and diesel) increased annually by 9%. The figure below shows the trend in overall collections of the central and state governments from petroleum (including receipts from taxes, royalties, and dividends).
Notes: Data includes tax collections (from cesses, royalties, customs duty, central excise duty, state sales tax, octroi, and entry tax, among others), dividends paid to the government, and profit on oil exploration.
Data sources: Petroleum and Planning Analysis Cell; Central Board of Excise and Customs; Indian Oil Corporation Limited; PRS.
In the last few years, several states have enacted laws to curb cheating in examinations, especially those for recruitment in public service commissions. According to news reports, incidents of cheating and paper leaks have occurred on several occasions in Uttarakhand, including during the panchayat development officer exams in 2016, and the Uttarakhand Subordinate Services Selection Commission exams in 2021. The Uttarakhand Public Service Commission papers were also leaked in January 2023. The most recent cheating incidents led to protests and unrest in Uttarakhand. Following this, on February 11, 2023, the state promulgated an Ordinance to bar and penalise the use of unfair means in public examinations. The Uttarakhand Assembly passed the Bill replacing the Ordinance in March 2023. There have been multiple reports of candidates being arrested and debarred for cheating in public examinations for posts such as forest guard and secretariat guard after the ordinance’s introduction. Similar instances of cheating have also been noted in other states. As per news reports, since 2015, Gujarat has not been able to hold a single recruitment exam without reported paper leaks. In February 2023, the Gujarat Assembly also passed a law to penalise cheating in public examinations. Other states such as Rajasthan (Act passed in 2022), Uttar Pradesh (Act passed in 1998) and Andhra Pradesh (Act passed in 1997) also have similar laws. In this blog, we compare anti-cheating laws across some states (see Table 1), and discuss some issues to consider.
Typical provisions of anti-cheating laws
Anti-cheating laws across states generally contain provisions that penalise the use of unfair means by examinees and other groups in public examinations such as those conducted by state public sector commission examinations and higher secondary education boards. Broadly, unfair means is defined to include the use of unauthorised help and the unauthorised use of written material by candidates. These laws also prohibit individuals responsible for conducting examinations from disclosing any information they acquire in this role. The more recent laws, such as the Gujarat, Uttarakhand, and Rajasthan ones, also include the impersonation of candidates and the leaking of exam papers within the definition of unfair means. Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh prohibit the use of electronic aids. Maximum prison sentences for using such unfair means range from three months in Uttar Pradesh, to seven years in Andhra Pradesh.
Issues to consider
The Gujarat and Uttarakhand anti-cheating Acts have relatively stringent provisions for cheating. The Uttarakhand Act has a fixed 3-year prison sentence for examinees caught cheating or using unfair means (for the first offence). Since the Act does not distinguish between the different types of unfair means used, an examinee could serve a sentence disproportionate to the offence committed. In most other states, the maximum imprisonment term for such offences is three years. Andhra Pradesh has a minimum imprisonment term of three years. However, all these states allow for a range with respect to the penalty, that is, the judge can decide on the imprisonment term (within the specified limits) depending on the manner of cheating and the implications of such cheating. Table 1 below compares the penalties for certain offences across eight states.
The Uttarakhand Act has a provision that debars the examinee from state competitive examinations for two to five years upon the filing of the chargesheet, rather than upon conviction. Thus, an examinee could be deprived of giving the examination even if they were innocent but being prosecuted under the law. This could compromise the presumption of innocence for accused candidates. The Gujarat and Rajasthan laws also debar candidates from sitting in specified examinations for two years, but only upon conviction.
These laws also vary in scope across states. In Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, the laws only apply to competitive examinations for recruitment in a state department (such as a Public Commission). In the other six states examined, these laws also apply to examinations held by educational institutions for granting educational qualifications such as diplomas and degrees. For example, in Gujarat, exams conducted by the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board are also covered under the Gujarat Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2023. The question is whether it is appropriate to have similar punishments for exams in educational institutions and exams for recruitment in government jobs, given the difference in stakes between them.
Sources: The Rajasthan Public Examination (Measures for Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Act, 2022; the Uttar Pradesh Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 1998; the Chhattisgarh Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2008; the Orissa Conduct of Examinations Act, 1988; the Andhra Pradesh Public Examinations (Prevention of Malpractices and Unfair means) Act, 1997; the Jharkhand Conduct of Examinations Act, 2001, the Uttarakhand Competitive Examination (Measures for Prevention and Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Act, 2023, the Gujarat Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Methods) Act, 2023; PRS.