HC halts subordinate court order staying retendering for Kokernag WSS
Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Monday put a halt on a subordinate court order which had stayed the process of retendering for a water supply scheme in south Kashmir already running over time and cost.
The Public Health Engineering (now Jal Shakti) Anantnag had in January 2014 invited tenders for execution of laying and fitting of pipes for Kokernag area on item-rate basis. The tender wanted to arrange for five lakh gallon RCC SR water supply scheme for the area besides removal of junk of pipes from Kokernag spring.
Mohammad Hussain Pattoo and another contractor were the successful bidders and were allotted work by the department. The allotment, according to the government, was not executed as per the terms and conditions of the contract. The contract was cancelled and fresh process of allotment of the contract was imitated.
Accordingly a fresh tender was invited in mid-November 2019. The retendering was challenged by the previous contractors before the Principal District and Sessions Judge Anantnag.
The court on 6th of February this year stayed the retendering, albeit without providing the PHE department an opportunity of filing objections.
It also sought an explanation from the Secretary Jal Shakti (PHE), its Chief Engineer, Superintending Engineer and Assistant Executive Engineer asking as to “why the scheme sanctioned in 2013 got delayed for about seven long years”.
“The appellants owe explanation, as not only public exchequer but the public interest is involved,” it observed.
Hearing the matter the High Court today viewed the approach adopted by the Sessions court seriously in staying the retender notice.
“It has not realized that the stay has the effect of stalling the implementation of the water supply scheme for a huge populated area of Kokernag,” the High Court said.
“Prima facie it appears that the only relief, which is available to the respondent contractors may be to claim the relief for breach of the contract, which in essence does not give them any right to seek performance of contract, as per the settled position of law,” it said.
The delayed appeal filed by the department after about 200 days against the sessions court decision “needs plausible explanation”, said the court.
It also directed notice returnable within two weeks to be served to the respondents and stayed the Sessions court stay on retendering.