Oil companies are being accused of illegally charging royalties on camphor and other products for the purpose of “exposing and harming the health and well-being of consumers”.
A class action filed in the Supreme Court of India, on behalf of around 1,200 people, alleges that the companies have been charging people for the products for years, in violation of the provisions of the Companies Act, 1951.
The suit seeks to hold the companies liable for violations of the Act.
The company, which is owned by the Indian Oil Corporation of India Ltd (IOCIL), is accused of charging people to buy “camphor, camphor oils, camphors and camphoric acids” for their own use, according to the suit.
It is claimed that the product was “designed for the consumption of human beings and the environment” and that “in order to protect the health of consumers and the health environment, the products must be produced with appropriate care”.
It alleges that in 2013, the IOCIL was charged with illegally charging Rs 50 crore (US$6.8 million) for the use of “camphors”.
It is also alleged that in 2014, the company was charged for allegedly using “camphyol” in its products.
The company denied these allegations.
In the complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that “a large number of individuals have been harmed by the illegal activities of the company”, with one person dying from anaphylactic shock and another suffering from respiratory distress.
It also claimed that “the unlawful practices of the oil companies, including the illegal use of the name ‘camphor’ in its own products, as well as its collusion with the oil industry, are of grave concern”.
The lawsuit alleges that “it is well established that the use and abuse of chemicals and toxins as ‘camphones’ or ‘camphyols’ have a detrimental effect on the human and the natural environment”.
The plaintiffs alleged, however, that “no such health concern exists in respect of the camphor or camphor-oil products” and it is “unreal” that they have not been banned by the government.
It says that it is seeking damages for the victims and the “unnecessary health and environmental suffering” it has suffered.
A representative of the Oil Companies Regulatory Authority (OCRA) said in a statement that “all the information we have received in relation to the complaint is yet to be finalised”.
The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority of India (OGRAI), which has responsibility for the Oil and Natural Gas Act, said that it would be taking up the matter with the companies and the plaintiffs.