Petition Filed Challenging Bid Made on Behalf of the LT. Governor of Union Territory Before High Court of Jammu and Kashmir

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Facts

The petitioner was a registered PWD contractor of Class-DEE to execute civil works. On 20.10.2018, the petitioner was elected as a member of Ward No.10 of the Municipal Committee, Basohli. The Executive Engineer, PW(R&B) Division Basohli invited tenders for and on behalf of the Lt. Governor of the Union Territory of J&K for the execution of six different works, which included the construction of lane and drain and R/Wall from the house of Ram Lal to the house of Baldev Raj at Ward No.12, Basohli. The petitioner was found a successful bidder and was allotted the work by the Executive Engineer. The allotment was made in favor of the petitioner for and on behalf of the Lt. Governor of the Union Territory. The petitioner claimed that he had executed the work allotted to him to the satisfaction of the Executive Engineer concerned and there was no dispute concerning the execution of the aforesaid work.

It was this order, the petitioner was aggrieved and had challenged the same primarily on the ground that disqualification in terms of Section 16(1) (j) was not attracted in the case. The petitioner did not have directly or indirectly any share or interest in any work done by the order of Municipality nor had executed any contract under or on behalf of the Municipality.

Petitioner’s Contention

It was submitted by the petitioner that the work, which he had executed, for which was issued a show-cause notice for a work notified by the Public Works

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Department for and on behalf of the Lt. Governor of the Union Territory of J&K and not on behalf of the Municipal Committee. Further, relying upon the contents of the NIT issued by the Executive Engineer and letter of allotment, the petitioner in his reply claimed that he had not executed any work for and on behalf of the Municipal Committee as would attract disqualification in terms of Section 16(1) (j) of the Act.

Respondent’s Contention

The respondents claimed that the work allotted to the petitioner by the Public Works Department was a work under the IDMT scheme for the year 2020-21 and, therefore, the petitioner being a member of the Municipal Committee, could not have executed the same without incurring disqualification under Section 16(1)(j) of the Act. It was submitted that the Executive Engineer, PW(R&B) Division, Basohli was only the executing agency and the aforesaid work was to be executed for and on behalf of the Municipal Committee, Basohli.

The learned Senior AAG appearing for the respondents also placed strong reliance on Section 57 of the Act to contend that all public sewers, drains, culverts, and watercourses in or under any public street or constructed by or for the municipality alongside any public street, etc. are vested in the Municipality. Therefore, any work executed with the property of the Municipality was executed for and on behalf of the Municipality.

Court’s Observation

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The Court first set out Section 16(1) (j) of the Act, which was at the core of controversy in the instant case. The court held that it was clear that a person should be disqualified from being chosen as and for being an office-bearer of a municipality if he incurs any of the disqualifications enumerated in different clauses including Clause (j) of Sub Section (1) of Section 16 of the Act.

The reliance placed by senior AGG on Section 57 of the Act is also of no avail to the respondents.

Court’s Judgment

The Court held that the execution of work by the petitioner, which was notified by the Public Works Department for and on behalf of the Lt. Governor of the Union Territory, could visit the petitioner with his disqualification as a member of the municipal committee.

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