The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday scrapped the award of a contract for high-security number plates to a private firm by the Mayawati government,and ordered an inquiry by the CBI.
A Division Bench,comprising Justice Devi Prasad Singh and Justice SC Chaurasia,also imposed a cost of Rs 25 lakh on the firm,namely Shimnit Utsch India Pvt Ltd,and Rs 25 lakh on the state government. The award of the contract on December 22,2011 was one of the last major decisions of the Mayawati government.
Passing the judgment on a petition filed by one Celex Technologies Pvt Ltd and others,the court said: There appears to be institutional breakdown of the bureaucracy in the state because of political alignation of a section of its members. Immediate attention requires not only to uplift the morale of the bureaucracy but also make it an integral but independent part of the government for socio-economic development of the country in national interest. The court ordered that Rs 25 lakh to be deposited by the state government would eventually be recovered,after an inquiry,from officers who were involved in finalising the contract in favour of the company.
The CBI was directed to investigate the entire process of award of contract,and the criminal antecedents and links of Shimnit Utsch India Private Limited within six months. It was asked to submit a progress report every two months.
The court ordered that the state government may forfeit the security deposit of Rs 8.51 crore,submitted by Shimnit Utsch India Private Limited,re-advertise within a week the bid after making changes in the tender document strictly in accordance with rules and laws,and complete the process by April 30.
The petitioners had alleged that the entire procedure right from inviting tender to the submission of the tender document was a violation of the statutory provisions. The forms for the bid were changed in violation of tender conditions and there were repeated negotiations without any provision in the tender documents. Besides,the contract was awarded to the firm at unusually high rates.
Said the court: No man of ordinary prudence shall believe that the rates quoted (by the firm) and accepted by the state government are reasonable and is an instance of bona fide deal/transaction. The evidence and material on record prima facie make out a case of misfeasance in public office and collusive act involving the constitutional functionaries,bureaucrats and persons working in the office of the Legal Remembrancer.