Acceptance of any tender that is not the highest bid requires government approval. The top bidder’s tender must be accepted. Acceptance of a tender that is not the highest bid requires prior and explicit authorization from the government. The High Court Of Gauhati upheld this through a single learned bench MR. JUSTICE MANISH CHOUDHURY in SRI DEBAJIT HAZARIKA V. THE STATE OF ASSAM (Writ Petition (Civil) no. 4036/2021).
Facts of the case – The Golaghat West Anchalik Panchayat, Bokakhat, released a Tender Notice for settlement of markets/ghats/meen mahals [‘Tender Notice,’ for abbreviation] requesting sealed bids from intending bidders for payment of several markets/ghats/meen mahals. A total of 14 markets within the Anchalik Panchayat were sought to be resolved by the aforementioned Tender Notice. Sapjuri Weekly Market, located under the Northeast Kaziranga Gaon Panchayat’s authority, was one such market. According to the Tender Notice, the Government value of the market mentioned above was set at Rs. 60,638/-, and the deadline for bid submissions was set at 07.06.2021. However, the deadline for submitting proposals was extended again at a later date. According to the second extension, the deadline for submitting proposals was June 21, 2021.
The petitioner’s offer was judged to be genuine and higher by the Golaghat Zilla Parishad’s General Standing Committee, according to Mr. Das, distinguished senior counsel for the petitioner. The petitioner’s bid was the second-highest among the 11 bidders, whereas respondent no. 6’s bid was the third-highest. Mr. Das’ fundamental point is that if the General Standing Committee decides to settle a market in favor of a bidder despite the availability of higher legal bids, the State Government must give prior and official consent. He claims that Rule 47(10) of the Assam Panchayat [Financial] Rules, 2002 [‘the Rules, 2002’ for short] stipulates that the highest bidder’s tender must be accepted. Mr. Das claims that the Tender Notice was issued, among other things, to settle the Sapjuri Weekly Market for the period of July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. As a result of the above illegalities, respondent no. 6 can no longer operate the market, and the market must be settled under Rule 47(10) of the Rules, 2002.
Mr. Roy, learned Standing Counsel, P&RD Department, has stated that the Zilla Parishad’s General Standing Committee assessed the bids filed by all 11 bidders, as well as their suggested bid prices, during its meeting on June 25, 2021. The General Standing Committee determined the bid of one Sri Yubanath Dutta, who provided a bid of Rs. 23,51,000/-, the petitioner’s proposal, and respondent no. 6’s request, as well as a few other offers, were genuine. The General Standing Committee also reviewed the situation at the time, which was exacerbated by the Covid-19 outbreak and the local people’s circumstances. It was further said that the petitioner failed to provide a consent letter/no objection certificate from one of the co-pattadars of the property, which was provided as security. As a result, he claims that the petitioner’s bid was similarly inadequate.
The original order of settlement dated 27.02.2021 was for the time up to 31.12.2021, according to Mr. Bora, learned counsel for respondent no. 6. on December 20, 2021, another settlement order was issued in favor of respondent no. 6, settling the market in his favor for the period up to February 28, 2022. Respondent no. 6 has already deposited the requested sum following the previous order of 20.12.2021. It is also his argument that the writ petition is not maintainable since the writ petitioner has not impleaded the other bidders, particularly Sri Yubanath Dutta, whose offer was likewise judged to be genuine and higher than both the petitioner and the respondent no. 6. He has relied on a judgment of this Court in the writ suit in Ritwick Gogoi V. State Of Assam And Others to support his claims.
The Learned Judge, in light of the previous discussion and the reasons assigned states, particularly in light of the General Standing Committee of the Zilla Parishad’s violation of Rule 47(10) of the Rules, 2002, the process of settlement resulting in the order of compensation in favor of respondent no. 6 is found to be vitiated due to the inclusion of irrelevant factors in the decision-making process and non-compliance with the statutory prescription contained therein. As a result, it has been placed aside. As a result, the Zilla Parishad has been asked to examine the issue of settlement based on the records comprising the tender papers of the participating legitimate bidders and judge the Sapjuri Weekly Market settlement. The whole exercise must be finished on or before February 15, 2022. In light of the preceding, respondent no. 6 may be permitted to operate the market until February 15, 2022. If any excess amount of installment for the period beginning February 16, 2022, is found to be refunded to respondent no. 6 due to a deposit already made by him, the respondent authorities shall refund the same as soon as possible. The writ petition is permitted to the degree that the remarks and instructions mentioned above are followed.
Reviewed by Rangasree.