Section 24 in The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Act, 2006
Title: Board to settle disputes
(1) Save as otherwise provided for arbitration in the relevant agreements between entities or between an entity or any other person, as the case may be, if any dispute arises, in respect of matters referred to in sub-section (2) among entities or between an entity and any other person, such dispute shall be decided by a Bench consisting of the Member (Legal) and one or more members nominated by the Chairperson:
Provided that if the members of the Bench differ on any point or points, they shall state the point or points on which they differ and refer the same to a member other than a member of the Bench for hearing on such point or points and such point or points shall be decided according to the opinion of that member.
(2) The Bench constituted under sub-section (1) shall exercise, on and from the appointed day, all such jurisdiction, powers and authority as were exercisable by a civil court on any matter relating to—
(a) refining, processing, storage, transportation and distribution of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas by the entities;
(b) marketing and sale of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas including the quality of service and security of supply to the consumers by the entities; and
(c) registration or authorisation issued by the Board under section 15 or section 19.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), the Board shall have the power to decide matters referred to in sub-section (2) on or after the appointed day.
Title: Filing of complaints
(1) A complaint may be filed before the Board by any person in respect of matters relating to entities or between entities on any matter arising out of the provisions of this Act:
Provided that the complaints of individual consumers maintainable before a consumer disputes redressal forum under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (68 of 1986) shall not be taken up by the Board but shall be heard and disposed of by such forum.
Explanation. -- For the purposes of this sub-section, the expression "consumer disputes redressal forum" shall mean the district forum, State Commission or, the National Commission, as the case may be, constituted under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (68 of 1986).
(2) Every complaint made under sub-section (1) shall be filed within sixty days from the date on which any act or conduct constituting a contravention took place and shall be in such form and shall be accompanied by such fee as may be provided by regulations:
Provided that the Board may entertain a complaint after the expiry of the said period if it is satisfied that there was sufficient cause for not filing the complaint within that period.
(3) On receipt of a complaint under sub-section (1), the Board shall decide within thirty days whether there is a prima facie case against the entity or entities concerned and may either conduct enquiry on its own or refer the matter for investigation under this Chapter, to an Investigating Officer having jurisdiction; and, where the matter is referred to such Investigating Officer, on receipt of a report from such Investigating Officer, the Board may, hear and dispose of the complaint as a dispute if it falls under sub-section (2) of section 27 and in any other case, it may pass such orders and issue such directions as it deems fit.
(4) Where the Central Government considers that a matter arising out of the provisions of this Act is required to be investigated, it shall make a reference to the Board and the provisions of this Act shall apply as if such reference were a complaint made to the Board.
Title: Power to investigate
(1) For the purposes of provisions of section 25, the Board shall, subject to the provisions of sub-section (3), appoint by general or special order, an officer of the Board as an Investigating Officer for holding an investigation in the manner provided by regulations:
Provided that where the Board considers it necessary that the matter should be investigated by any investigating agency of the State or Central Government including the special police force constituted under section 2 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (25 of 1946), the Board may request the concerned Government for directing or authorising such agency to investigate and the agency so directed or authorised shall, then, be competent to exercise the powers and to discharge the duties of an Investigating Officer under this Act.
(2) No person shall be appointed as an Investigating Officer unless he possesses such qualifications and experience as may be determined by the Board by regulations.
(3) Where more than one Investigating Officer is appointed, the Board shall specify, by order, the matters and the local limits of jurisdiction with respect to which each such officer shall exercise his jurisdiction.
Title: Factors to be taken into account by the Board
The Board shall, while deciding a dispute under this Chapter, have due regard to the provisions of this Act and to the following factors, namely:--
(a) the amount of disproportionate gain made or unfair advantage derived, wherever quantifiable, as a result of the default;
(b) the amount of loss caused to an entity as a result of the default;
(c) the repetitive nature of the default.
Title: Civil penalty for contravention of directions given by the Board
In case any complaint is filed before the Board by any person or if the Board is satisfied that any person has contravened a direction issued by the Board under this Act to provide access to, or to adhere to the transportation rate in respect of a common carrier, or to display maximum retail price at retail outlets, or violates the terms and conditions subject to which registration or authorisation has been granted under section 15 or section 19 or the retail service obligations or marketing service obligations, or does not furnish information, document, return of report required by the Board, it may, after giving such person an opportunity of being heard in the matter, by order in writing, direct that, without prejudice to any other penalty to which he may be liable under this Act, such person shall pay, by way of civil penalty an amount which shall not exceed one crore rupees for each contravention and in case of a continuing failure with additional penalty which may extend to ten lakh rupees for every day during which the failure continues after contravention of the first such direction:
Provided that in the case of a complaint on restrictive trade practice, the amount of civil penalty may extend to five times the unfair gains made by the entity or ten crore rupees, whichever is higher.