Government Largesse cannot be distributed in an arbitrary manner, must be transparent: Himachal Pradesh High court

While hearing writ petitions on the procedure of allotment of shops to be in a transparent manner and quashing of the allotted sops, the High Court held that all allotments cannot be quashed, but at the same time distribution of a Government largesse must be done in a transparent method and cannot be arbitrary. This judgment was passed in the case of Prem Chand and Others vs. State of Himachal Pradesh and others [CWP No.931/2020], by a Single Bench consisting of Hon’ble Justice Ajay Mohan Goel.

The petitioner prayed for a writ of certiorari to quash the allotment of shops made by respondents no.3 to 5 in favour of Respondents no. 6 to 34 and justice to be done. They also prayed for writ of mandamus directing respondent no. 1 and 2 to allot the shops in a transparent manner and justice be done. The petitioners claim that the respondent-society constructed shops near the bus stand and was named as a sports complex. Petitioners and others were issued notices for the allotment of shops in December 2019. The petitioners claim that the meeting that was held under the chairmanship of respondent no. 3 and they decided to give preference to the 58 khokha holder opposite the bus stance. They also had to file an application with the affidavit that they would vacate the premises once they are allotted the shops. The grievance of the petitioner was that allotment of shops by the respondents no. 3 to 5 were on the basis of the first application being given the first choice to choose the first shop was arbitrary and not sustainable in law. The petitioners claimed that the respondents followed a procedure unknown to law, with an oblique motive and a colorable exercise of power by the authorities to allot shops in favor of the private respondents.

The High Court heard both the parties to the proceedings before delivering the judgment. The Court observed that government largesse cannot be distributed in the mode and manner in which it has been done in the present case. Even amongst the eligible candidates, transparent criteria had to be adopted.

At the same time, the court also has to observe if the relief prayed by the petitioners could be given. The High court observed that the four petitioners have participated in the process without any objection and as a matter of record have entered into an agreement with the respondent society and their contention that the same was done in fear that allotment might get cancelled is not substantiated with any other material. Therefore, the relief seeking change in the allotment is not maintainable and sustainable.

The petitioners were not able to demonstrate that the allotment of shops was done with an ulterior motive of conferring an undue benefit upon the private respondents. The High Court observed that the same demonstrated the mode of allotment which would otherwise not be preferred while distribution government largesse is not malafide. Thus it held that the allotment cannot be set aside since the same would unsettle the private respondents who have occupied the shops and are running their business. The High Court held that the cancellation of shops of petitioners is quashed and the shops allotted to them be handed over to them in the event of them entering into an agreement with the respondent -society within 30 days from the date of judgment. Since, the procedure of allotment was not according to law, the court held that the petitioner’s Prem Chand and Dhani Ram are not liable to pay rent for a period of 12 months.

The High Court concluded by holding, “with these observations, the writ petition stands disposed of. Pending miscellaneous applicantion(s), if any, also stand disposed of accordingly.”

Click here to read the judgment.

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