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)
|% of retail price
% of retail price
|Price Charged to Dealers
|Excise Duty (levied by centre)
|VAT (levied by state)
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.
On October 18, it was reported in the news that the central government has been given more time for framing rules under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. The President had given assent to this Act in December 2019 and the Act came into force in January 2020. Similarly, about two years have passed since the new labour codes were passed by Parliament, and the final Rules are yet to be published. This raises the question how long the government can take to frame Rules and what is the procedure guiding this. In this blog, we discuss the same.
Under the Constitution, the Legislature has the power to make laws and the Executive is responsible for implementing them. Often, the Legislature enacts a law covering the general principles and policies, and delegates the power to the Executive for specifying certain details for the implementation of a law. For example, the Citizenship Amendment Act provides who will be eligible for citizenship. The certificate of registration or naturalization to a person will be issued, subject to conditions, restrictions, and manner as may be prescribed by the central government through Rules. Delay in framing Rules results in delay in implementing the law, since the necessary details are not available. For example, new labour codes provide a social security scheme for gig economy workers such as Swiggy and Zomato delivery persons and Uber and Ola drivers. These benefits as per these Codes are yet to be rolled out as the Rules are yet to be notified.
Timelines and checks and balances for adherence
Each House of Parliament has a Committee of Members to examine Rules, Regulations, and government orders in detail called the Committee on Subordinate Legislation. Over the years, the recommendations of these Committees have shaped the evolution of the procedure and timelines for framing subordinate legislation. These are reflected in the Manual of Parliamentary Procedures issued by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, which provides detailed guidelines.
Ordinarily, Rules, Regulations, and bye-laws are to be framed within six months from the date on which the concerned Act came into force. Post that, the concerned Ministry is required to seek an extension from the Parliamentary Committees on Subordinate Legislation. The reason for the extension needs to be stated. Such extensions may be granted for a maximum period of three months at a time. For example, in case of Rules under the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, at an earlier instance, an extension was granted on account of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To ensure monitoring, every Ministry is required to prepare a quarterly report on the status of subordinate legislation not framed and share it with the Ministry of Law and Justice. These reports are not available in the public domain.
Recommendations to address delays
Over the years, the Subordinate Legislation Committees in both Houses have observed multiple instances of non-adherence to the above timelines by various Ministries. To address this, they have made the following key recommendations:
Are all Rules under an Act required to be framed?
Usually, the expressions used in an Act are “The Central Government may, by notification, make rules for carrying out the provisions of this Act.”, or “as may be prescribed”. Hence, it may appear that the laws aim to enable rule-making instead of mandate rule-making. However, certain provisions of an Act cannot be brought into force if the required details have not been prescribed under the Rules. This makes the implementation of the Act consequent to the publication of respective Rules. For example, the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 enables the police and certain other persons to collect identity-related information about certain persons. It provides that the manner of collection of such information may be specified by the central government. Unless the manner is prescribed, such collection cannot take place.
That said, some other rule-making powers may be enabling in nature and subject to discretion by the concerned Ministry. In 2016, Rajya Sabha Committee on Subordinate Legislation examined the status of Rules and Regulations to be framed under the Energy Conservation Act, 2001. It observed that the Ministry of Power had held that two Rules and three Regulations under this Act were not necessary. The Ministry of Law and Justice had opined that those deemed not necessary were enabling provisions meant for unforeseen circumstances. The Rajya Sabha Committee (2016) had recommended that where the Ministry does not feel the need for framing subordinate legislation, the Minister should table a statement in Parliament, stating reasons for such a conclusion.
Some key issues related to subordinate legislation
The Legislature delegates the power to specify details for the implementation of a law to the Executive through powers for framing subordinate legislation. Hence, it is important to ensure these are well-scrutinised so that they are within the limits envisaged in the law.
See here for our recently published analysis of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Rules, 2022, notified in September 2022. Also, check out PRS analysis of: