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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Punjab and Haryana HC seeks affidavit from UT Admin on Clause 13, says officials have failed to perform their duties

Meanwhile, in the resumed hearing Friday, the bench said that in order to curb the menace of cartelisation and monopolistic practices, a single person/entity is entitled for allotment of upto a maximum of ten vends.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh | August 9, 2020 1:13:07 am
Punjab and haryana hc, Chandigarh Administration's Excise policy, Chandigarh liquor shops, chandigarh liquor shops licences, Chandigarh liquor vends allotment, indian express news The bench has thus sought an affidavit from the administration. (File)

While hearing a petition challenging the Chandigarh Administration’s Excise policy, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has sought an affidavit from the administration on clause 13 of the Excise policy. The court has held that ‘the action of the Chandigarh Administration in allotting more than 10 liquor vends to the same person who applied for the tender process by formulating different companies, is contrary to the purport and object to be achieved by clause 13 of the Excise policy.’

The division bench of Justices Jaswant Singh and Ashok Kumar Verma, sought an affidavit from the Chandigarh Administration on whether the administration– by failing to restrain the companies operated by the same person to participate as separate entities, without verifying/noticing the credentials of the Directors of the company– has led to the violation of restrictions imposed in clause 13 of the Excise policy; if the Chandigarh Administration’s interpretation of clause 13 is to be accepted will the same amount to resulting in absurdity and defeating the purpose with which restriction has been imposed; and whether the interpretation given to clause 13 by the Chandigarh Administration creates an artificial discrimination which has the effect on cutting into the very objective sought to be achieved by the clause. The HC bench has sought the affidavit before the next scheduled hearing on October 27.

The petitioner, 52-year-old Rajbir Singh, who runs a liquor vend in Sector 17B, has challenged the Excise policy of Chandigarh through senior advocate Anand Chibber, alleging that the policy was leading to a complete cartelisation of the city’s liquor business and the policy adopted by the UT Administration has led to a monopoly of certain individuals through their firms.

Meanwhile, in the resumed hearing Friday, the bench said that in order to curb the menace of cartelisation and monopolistic practices, a single person/entity is entitled for allotment of upto a maximum of ten vends.

It further held that a perusal of the list of successful tenderers, makes it evident, that the Bajaj Group has been allotted 15 liquor vends in the city, through two separate corporate entities which is Bajaj Spirits Private Limited and Liquor World Venture Private Limited. “It is evident from Annexure P-15 and Annexure P-16 that the Directors of both the companies are the same and as such the Excise officials have failed in performing their duties in complying with the conditions stipulated in clause 13,” read the order.

It further held that a perusal of the list of successful tenderers, makes it evident, that the Bajaj Group has been allotted 15 liquor vends in the city, through two separate corporate entities which is Bajaj Spirits Private Limited and Liquor World Venture Private Limited. “It is evident from Annexure P-15 and Annexure P-16 that the Directors of both the companies are the same and as such the Excise officials have failed in performing their duties in complying with the conditions stipulated in clause 13,” read the order.

“The action of the Chandigarh Administration, in permitting more than 10 liquor vends to be operated by the same person by creating an artificial barrier viz two separate companies has resulted in defeating the purpose with which the restrictions were incorporated in clause 13 of the Excise policy. The formulation of such artificial barriers is nothing more than a tactic to wriggle out of the restrictions as imposed in clause 13 of the Excise policy,” the bench held.

It also stated in the order that “Once the directors of the persons running the company are same and still more than 10 liquor vends are allotted to the said person, the purport and object to be achieved by imposing the restriction under clause 13 would be defeated.”

The purport and object of the restrictions is to ensure that no person indulges in monopolistic practices. However, if people are permitted to formulate artificial entities viz companies and partnership firms, in the bidding process and they are treated as separate entities for interpretation of clause 13 of the Excise policy, the same will create absurd results, said the bench.

The bench has thus sought an affidavit from the administration.

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