No cause for writ petition if there is no colourable exercise of power: Bombay High Court

In case there is no improper or ulterior motive or colourable exercise of power, there is no cause for the writ court to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 226, held, a division bench of S.C. GUPTE & M.S. KARNIK, JJ., while adjudicating the matter in Satia Industries Ltd. And Anr v. The State of Maharashtra & Anr. [WRIT PETITION NO.995 OF 2021].

It is the case of the Petitioners, who are manufacturers of paper from virgin pulp, which is made of agricultural waste (and not of wood), that this particular condition, which requires paper to be supplied from 100% recycled pulp only and not virgin pulp, improperly excludes the Petitioners and similar manufacturers, who use virgin pulp for manufacturing paper. The challenge is also on the footing that manufacturers of writing and printing paper from 100% recycled pulp have improperly been included as potential bidders in response to the notice inviting tenders. a statement was made by learned Advocate General appearing for the Respondent State that subject to further orders that may be passed in the three petitions at hand, the Respondents would amend the impugned tender conditions of both e-tenders so as to include not only those tenderers, who are presently eligible, but also manufacturers of paper from agro based virgin pulp, i.e. pulp made up of basic agricultural waste like wheat straw, rice straw, sarkanda grass, baggasse, etc. This statement was said to be without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties and in view of the urgency involved in the matter. In keeping with this statement, a corrigendum has been issued by the Respondents amending the relevant terms of both e-tenders. The grievance of the Petitioners is that they, who are manufacturers of paper from virgin pulp (agro based and not wood/tree based), have been improperly excluded from participating in the tender process, has been fully redressed by the Respondent State. As a result of this corrigendum, the Petitioners, who manufacture paper made from virgin pulp (not being pulp made from wood/tree) are eligible to participate and be selected for supply of paper.

The Court upon considering the aforesaid facts stated that; “It cannot possibly be suggested that the procurement notice issued by the Respondent State is either capricious or whimsical or unreasonable. There is no case of any improper or ulterior motive or colourable exercise of power in the present case. If that is so, there is no cause for the writ court to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 226. we are not expected to apply our mind to decide whether, and to what extent, if at all, use of recycled paper pulp may be harmful or ill-advised or to what extent use of alternative paper, i.e., paper made of virgin pulp, is either advisable or beneficial. We, accordingly, find no merit in the challenge to the particular tender condition of allowing manufacturers of paper made of 100% recycled pulp to participate in the tender process.”

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