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Policy made to improvise and modernise transportation is not arbitrary or irrational: Bombay High Court

The policy is made to improve and modernise transportation for ensuring efficiency and timely distribution of food grains and does not suffer from manifest arbitrariness or is in any manner irrational, held, a division bench of S.C.GUPTE & M. S.KARNIK, JJ.; while adjudicating the matter in Prithviraj Enterprises v. State of Maharashtra; [WRIT PETITION NO. 750 OF 2021].

The State of Maharashtra had from time to time issued various GRs (government resolution) for the purpose introducing transparency and for the purpose of ensuring that the beneficiaries receive food and civil supplies on regular basis and in prescribed time. Towards that end, initially, GR dated February 23, 2012 was issued. As per this GR, from the base depot of the FCI upto the ration shop in the districts, transportation was to be done under one contract at the cost of the Government, for maintaining the food and civil supplies. Thereafter, vide GRs dated November 26, 2012 and April 20, 2017, in all districts in the State of Maharashtra, food and civil supplies were to be transported, in two stages, that is to say, first from FCI depot to district collection centres or Government godown and from there to individual fair price shops, and in respect of circle areas of Mumbai and Thane and so far as municipal corporation areas of Pune, Nashik, Nagpur, Aurangabad and Solapur are concerned, directly from FCI depot to fair price shops. The guidelines for such transportations were prescribed by these two GRs dated November 26, 2012 and April 20, 2017. Thereafter, GR dated November 1, 2018 was issued for the purpose of bringing co-ordination in the handling of food and civil supplies department at the level of the Government godown and for the purpose of making transportation of food and civil supplies as per ‘PDS’ managed by the Government of Maharashtra and for increasing the efficiency thereof. Towards that end, it was decided that combined tenders would be issued and that was so provided by this GR dated November 1, 2018. The issuance of GR dated November 1, 2018 resulted in hamal contractors raising a grievance that the said GR would adversely affect their work. Various Writ Petitions came to be fled challenging the GR dated November 1, 2018.

The Court upon considering the aforesaid facts stated that; “Though the Petitioners made an allegation that the impugned G.R. is issued with a view to exclude competition and deprive the Petitioners from participation, we find the averments in the Petition regarding favouritism as vague as can be. There are no material particulars in the Petition supporting the contention that the conditions are tailor made to favour the existing contractors or with a view to exclude the participation of the Petitioners. We are satisfied from the stand of the State Government in the connected Petitions that the policy is made to improve and modernise transportation for ensuring efficiency and timely distribution of food grains and, as we have already held, the policy does not suffer from manifest arbitrariness or is in any manner irrational. The exclusion of the Petitioners from participating in the bid if they fail to satisfy the eligibility, in the absence of the policy being arbitrary, whimsical or perverse cannot be said to be unjustified.”

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