High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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The Bhartiya Khadya Nigam Coop Labour & v. Haryana Agro Industries Corporation Ltd. - CWP-11508-2005  RD-P&H 799 (15 February 2006)
Civil Writ Petition No.11508 of 2005
Date of decision: February 22, 2006.
The Bhartiya Khadya Nigam Coop Labour & Construction Society Ltd., ...Petitioner
Mr. K.K. Gupta, Advocate
Haryana Agro Industries Corporation Ltd. & Ors.
Mr. Deepak Girotra, Asstt. Advocate
Mr. Pankaj Gupta, Advocate
Mr. Varun Gupta, Advocate
for the respondents.
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE D.K. JAIN, CHIEF JUSTICE HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE SURYA KANT
1. Whether Reporters of local papers may be allowed to see the judgment ?
2. To be referred to the Reporters or not ?
3. Whether the judgment should be reported in the Digest. D.K. Jain, C.J. (Oral)
The petitioner, a cooperative-society, calls in question the decision taken by Haryana Agro Industries Corporation Ltd., respondent No.1 herein, to award the work of handling and transportation of foodgrain stocks in their godowns constructed for and hired by Food Corporation of India at Shahbad and Pipli, Haryana, in favour of respondents No.3 and 4, private contractors. Respondent No.2, namely Haryana State Cooperative Labour and Construction Federation Ltd. is stated to be the Apex Body of the Labour and Construction Societies incorporated to watch the interest of such societies.
The main grievance of the petitioner is that the said work had been awarded to respondents No.3 and 4, in violation of the instructions issued by the State Government, whereby unskilled works costing upto a particular value have been reserved for the cooperative societies. Thus, the petitioner, being the lowest qualified tenderer amongst the three cooperative societies, who had given the bids, the said work ought to have been awarded to it. It is pleaded that the impugned decision being arbitrary and illegal deserves to be set aside, with a direction to respondent No.1 to award the work to the petitioner.
The petition is contested by the first respondent, inter-alia, on the grounds:- (i) the petitioner-society does not hold a legal and valid labour licence as required under the provisions of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 and the rules framed thereunder and was, therefore not eligible to apply for the contract; (ii) the rates offered by the petitioner were not the lowest for either of the godowns at Shahbad and Pipli; and (iii) the subject work was not reserved for the cooperative societies.
We have heard learned Counsel for the parties.
To buttress his argument that the subject contract could be awarded to the cooperative societies only, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner has referred us to a Notification, dated 16th December, 2004,
which inter-alia, contemplates that all unskilled works, costing upto any value, will be reserved for cooperative labour and construction societies and in the event of cooperative labour and construction societies failing to tender or not accepting the work, open tenders may be invited both from the contractors and cooperative labour and construction societies. Learned counsel has also argued that upon issue of the tender-notice, on 14th June,
2005 on petitioner's representation to respondent No.2, the Federation had instructed the Managing Director of the first respondent to award the tender only to the cooperative labour and construction societies. It is, thus, asserted that the award of tender in utter violation of the afore-mentioned Notification and the said instructions, cannot be sustained.
We are of the considered view that the petition is bereft of any merit. It is true that notification, dated 16th December 2004 does stipulate
that unskilled works may be reserved for labour cooperative societies but the real question that arises for our consideration is whether respondent No.1 has awarded the work in contravention of any of the conditions as laid down in the notice inviting tender (for short the NIT) because none of the terms and conditions of the NIT is under challenge in the present petition.
For the sake of ready reference, the relevant portion of the NIT is extracted below:-
"Sealed percentage rate tenders are invited from experienced and financially sound parties/ individuals/ Co-op Societies having labour license and EPF Number for the appointment of handling contractors for food grain stocks in HAIC godowns of different capacities constructed for FCI stocks under seven year guarantee scheme at Shahbad and Pipli."
It is manifestly clear from a bare reading of the afore-extracted tender condition that the tenders had been invited from all experienced and financially sound parties which included individuals and cooperative societies having a valid labour licence. The tender was not confined to the cooperative societies, as is sought to be pleaded by the petitioner. If, according to the petitioner, the tender could not be offered to private parties in the first instance, it was open to them to challenge the NIT, as was done in the past but, for the reasons best known to them, they chose not to do so.
Having decided to participate in the tender enquiry and compete with the other tenders, it is now too late in the day to raise the issue that the tender could not be offered to the private parties. Having adhered to the tender conditions, no fault can be found with the decision of the first respondent to evaluate all the bids received.
For the view we have taken above, we deem it unnecessary to deal with other objections raised by the first respondent about the maintainability of the petition, including their categorical stand that the petitioner's bid was not the lowest.
Consequently, the writ petition fails and is dismissed accordingly.
[ D.K. Jain ]
February 22, 2006. [ Surya Kant ]
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