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'Can't Sit As An Appellate Authority To Scrutinize Who Should Be Given Tender': Madras High Court Upholds Auction For Lease Of Fishing Rights

Sebin James
18 Jan 2022 12:39 PM GMT
Cant Sit As An Appellate Authority To Scrutinize Who Should Be Given Tender: Madras High Court Upholds Auction For Lease Of Fishing Rights
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The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has recently refused to quash the public auction of lease for fishing rights in Pappaiyampattikulam Kanmoi in Periyakulam while stating that it cannot sit in appeal and scrutinize as to whom the tender should be given.The waterbody in dispute is vested with Public Works Department (PWD) and the issue at hand revolves around fishing rights in the...

The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has recently refused to quash the public auction of lease for fishing rights in Pappaiyampattikulam Kanmoi in Periyakulam while stating that it cannot sit in appeal and scrutinize as to whom the tender should be given.

The waterbody in dispute is vested with Public Works Department (PWD) and the issue at hand revolves around fishing rights in the said Kanmoi.

The petitioner, the President of Pappaaianpatti Kanmoi Water Users Association, contended that Kanmoi is the water source for about 350 acres of land and about 7500 families are also dependent on it. In such a backdrop, grant of fishing rights have high chances of the lessee damaging the tank bunds and draining the water.

Justice C.V Karthikeyan observed that inviting tenders for public auction was done with specific clauses for safeguarding the irrigation requirements, without damaging the bund or draining the water for fishing.

Noting that the apprehensions of the petitioner were unfounded, it also added that the it cannot conduct a roving enquiry into the auction procedure itself.

At the outset, the court noted that the petitioner chose to file the writ petition once the auction process was concluded.

"…The petitioner had not participated in the auction. It is inconceivable that the petitioner and none of the other members of the Association were not aware of the notifications issued by the respondents. The first date of auction was cancelled and a new date was then fixed. It had been clearly stated that the notification was affixed in all prominent places. However, neither the petitioner nor any of the members of the Association can claim ignorance of the notification. They are all residents of the same area. They did not want the fishing rights to be auctioned. Then they would have taken every care to see that a notification is not issued and if issued take steps to question the same immediately. …", the court remarked about the auction that has already taken place.

The bench also opined that the aspect of differing signatures in various documents and allegations about low auction amount are beyond the scope of the current petition.

The seventh respondent, P. Nagamuthu, was declared the highest bidder for Rs.48,900/- out of the four participants in the auction. He was subsequently granted lease for fishing rights from 01.10.2021 to 30.09.2022, according to the counter affidavit filed.

The court also pointed out that the respondent has expressly included a clause for revoking the lease at its discretion if the tank bunds are damaged or water is let out from the kanmoi.

"It is thus seen that the right to auction fishing rights was the correct step undertaken by the respondents. The petitioner should have participated in the auction. Conditions protecting the interest of the members of the petitioner Association have been imposed by the respondents. The Court cannot sit as an Appellate Authority and scrutinize as to whom the tender should be given", the court observed in the concluding part of the order.

Relying on Nagar Nigam Meerut v. AL Faheem Meat Exports (P) Ltd., (2006) 13 SCC 382 & Uflex Ltd. v. Government of Tamil Nadu and others, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 738, the court underscored that 'the court cannot sit as an appellate authority and scrutinize as to whom the tender should be given'.

"The Writ Petitioner having failed to participate in the auction cannot call upon the Court to enter into a roving enquiry on the entire issue. I am confident that the respondents would ensure that the stipulations in the notifications are not violated by the seventh respondent", the court noted while dismissing the writ petition.

Advocate .K.Appadurai appeared for the petitioner while Advocate J.John Rajadurai Government Advocate, represented Respondents 1-6. Advocate R.Karunanidhi appeared for the seventh respondent lessee.

Case Title: P.Subbiah @ Subbian v. The District Collector, Theni & Ors.

Case No: W.P.(MD)No.20324 of 2021 and W.M.P.(MD)Nos.16977 and 16978 of 2021

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Mad) 20

Click Here To Read/ Download Order


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