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If an authority acts in an arbitrary matter even in a matter of contract, an aggrieved party can approach the Court by way of Writ: High Court of Jammu and Kashmir

If an authority acts in an arbitrary matter even in a matter of the contract, an aggrieved party can approach the Court by way of Writ under Article 226 of the Constitution and that the Court, depending on the facts of the said case, is empowered to grant the relief. It is trite that when an act of authority is arbitrary or discriminatory and, thus, violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, a Writ Petition would be maintainable. This was held in Abdul Qayoom Dar V. Chief Engineer (NZ-V), CPWD, Satwari, Jammu & Ors [WP(C) No. 437/2020] in the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir by a single bench consisting of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey.

Facts are that Petitioner is a Contractor registered under the Contractors Registration Act, disputes arose both parties in relation to various contract matters which were referred to Arbitrators. The respondent debarred the Petitioner from tendering or taking up work in CPWD, MOEF, PWD, etc for a period of three years with effect from the date of issuance of communication. Petitioner has filed a writ against same.

The counsel for the Petitioner submitted that the impugned communication of debarring the Petitioners in gross violation of the principles of natural justice, as no fair opportunity of hearing was accorded to the Petitioner.

The counsel for the respondent submitted that communication of debarment in relation to the Petitioner was only issued after the Petitioner violated the terms and conditions prescribed in the agreements with respect to the works mentioned in the impugned communication.

The Court made reference to judgment of Apex court delivered in the case of ‘Zonal Manager, Central Bank of India v. Devi Ispat Ltd. & Ors., wherein the following observation had been made, “It is clear from the above observations of this Court in the said case, though a writ was not issued on the facts on that case, this Court has held that on a given set of facts if a State acts in an arbitrary manner even in a matter of contract, an aggrieved party can approach the Court by way of a writ under Article 226 of the Constitution and the court depending on facts of the said case is empowered to grant the relief”.

The court also made reference to DFO v. Ram Sanehi Singh, wherein the Apex court had observed that, “We are unable to hold that merely because the course of the right which the respondent claims was initially in a contract, for obtaining relief against any arbitrary and unlawful action on the part of a public authority he must resort to a suit and not to a petition by way of writ. In view of the judgment of this Court in K.N. Gueruswamy case there can be no doubt that the petition was maintainable, even if the right to relief arose out of an alleged breach of contract, where the action challenged was of a public authority invested with statutory power”.

Considering the precedents and the facts of the case the court held that,  the impugned communication made by the respondent whereby the Petitioner had been debarred from further participation in the tendering process is set aside, whilst allowing the petition.

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