The BJP governments new flagship scheme to provide free school uniforms received a serious blow after the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Thursday restrained the state-owned Civil Supplies Corporation from placing supply orders to a private firm – Gupta Textile Trading Company – following allegations of irregularities in the selection process for the supply of uniforms.
The court,however,gave the government an opportunity to initiate a fresh processs making it clear that Thursdays interim order restraining the Corporation from going ahead with the scheme,will not stand in the governments way in initiating the process afresh by giving an equal opportunity to all the intending tenderers.
The scheme – Atal School Uniform Yojana recently announced by Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal – was to provide free school uniforms to all students in government schools from classes 1 to 10 twice a year,in May and October,at a cost of Rs 60 crore per annum.
Opposition MLA Mukesh Agnihotri,however,levelled charges of irregularities in the supply orders,in the state Assembly forcing the government on the back-foot.
On Thursday,acting on a petition filed by some private firms,a division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice D C Chaudhary directed the state agencies including the Civil Supplies Corporation not to proceed further in the matter. It was alleged that the PSU had bended and relaxed certain conditions in the original tender to favour a firm – which was eventually selected to supply the uniforms.
The firms – Excel Marketing Corporation,Shimla and Surya Industries,Una – in their petition alleged that as per the terms and conditions of the short term tender notice,eligibility for tenderers included being a reputed composite mills / manufacturers / public sector undertakings or authorised distributors of composite mills / manufacturers / companies,having a minimum annual turnover of Rs 50 crore for the last three years.
They further alleged that a corrigendum was later issued on March 16 only on the website of the HP State Civil Supplies Corporation,in which the word tenderer may be read as composite mill / manufacturer / authorised distributors of composite mills. The tenders were opened on March 19 and according to the petitioners,Gupta Textiles Trading Company in Ambala City,simply an authorised distributor of a mill manufacturing clothes and not having annual turnover of Rs 50 crore during last three years,was not only allowed to participate in tender process but also declared as the successful bidder.
The court observed that the original tender notice was published in the print media as well but the corrigendum was issued only on the website. It appears that the Civil Supplies Corporation has taken turnover as that of the mills/manufacturers/companies and not the authorised distributors,the court order says asserting that prima facie,the court was of the view that the turnover should apply to the individual tenderers,be it the mill/manufacturer/company or authorised distributor.
The bench directed the Principal Secretary (Food & Civil Supplies),Director of Elementary Education and the Managing Director of the Civil Supplies Corporation to file replies and posted the matter for April 16.
SP appointment challenged
court issues notices
SHIMLA: The Himachal Pradesh High Court has issued notices to the state government and the Superintendent of Police (Wireless) Rajesh Verma on a petition challenging Vermas appointment as the SP (wireless). The orders were passed by the bench on a petition filed by Roshan Lal Vaishishit,a retired additional SP ,who had challenged Vermas appointment on the basis that the state government lacked the legislative competence in creating the post of SP (wireless). Rajinish Maniktala and Shreya Chauhan,advocates who appeared for Vaishishit,asserted that the government had the power only to create ex-cadre posts for a period not exceeding two years but the posts were required to be filled by cadre officers.