The Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) in Nagpur Shahar Water Tanker Malak Welfare Association, Nagpur and others. vs. Nagpur Municipal Corporation, has rejected the writ petition of the petitioners who alleged that the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) had extended the last day for submitting tenders in order to favour certain tanker associations.
The bench comprising Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice V.M. Deshpande decided that the action of the corporation wasn’t mala fide while examining the decision-making process of the body under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
The petitioners (Nagpur Shahar Water Tanker Malak Welfare Association, Nagpur and others) alleged that the Mayor had no authority to direct the Executive Engineer to extend the dates for further submission of tender bids from 14.07.2016 to 25.07.2016. As per provisions of clause 1.9 of the tender contract, the date could be extended only in exceptional circumstances, and there were no exceptional circumstances to be made out in this case. Thus, the action of the NMC to accept tenders till 25.07.2016, was held to be arbitrary and mala fide as the procedure was changed to accommodate certain tanker associations.
The court, however after perusal, observed that the order sheet extending the dates could prove no favouritism on its part. As far as the existence of exceptional circumstances existed, it was submitted that the Mayor had received applications from some tanker associations that requested for an extension of dates since they hadn’t received the RTO papers on time and delayed their bids. Thus, the court held that the action was done with the bona fide intention of giving an equal opportunity to other deserving associations and also increasing the competition, rather than restricting it.
As far as the power to exercise jurisdiction in exceptional circumstances was concerned, the court held that the action taken by the Mayor and Executive Engineer was in executive capacity and no detailed judgment was required to substantiate their act.
Focusing on the use of the words “at its discretion” followed by “exceptional circumstances” in the tender notice, the court said:
“We are of the considered view that firstly in the present case there are words "and at its discretion" after the "exceptional circumstances". Secondly we find that in a tender matter, the word "exceptional" cannot be stretched to such an extent as is sought to be contended by the learned Senior Counsel. In that view of the matter, the action of the respondent-Corporation cannot be said to be arbitrary, irrational or mala fide to warrant interfere.”
Thus, with the above views, the court dismissed the writ petition, giving relief to NMC in the process.
Read the Judgment here.