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Chhattisgarh High Court dismisses PIL challenging legality of Government Order related to construction work on contractual basis

The Chhattisgarh High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the legality, validity and propriety of the order dated 13.08.2020 issued by the Deputy Secretary, Department of Forest, Government of Chhattisgarh, by which various constructions works which were carried on in the Department of Forest have been decided to be carried on through contract system.

The PIL , filed by one environmental activist, also challenged the order dated 08.10.2020 issued by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Chhattisgarh, by which it has been decided to execute all the construction works through a contract system.

Jay Prakash Shukla, counsel for the petitioner submitted that the object behind executing the construction work through the Department itself is that they are having well trained, experienced and competent employees who can carry out the construction works with accuracy following the due procedure and process and without causing any harm to the forest and the environment. If the constructions works in the forest areas are allotted to private contractors, they would not follow the guidelines, procedures, norms strictly which may harm the forest and the environment. Thus, the cabinet decision dated 14.07.2020 and the orders dated 13.08.2020 and order dated 08.10.2020 deserve to be quashed as the same is going to cause irreparable losses to the flora and fauna of the State.

On the other hand, Raghavendra Pradhan, Additional Advocate General appearing for the State/respondents submitted that the order dated 13.08.2020 is a policy decision taken by the State Government to provide employment to the local unemployed educated technical youths of the State of Chhattisgarh. Various constructions works are carried out in and around the forests namely construction of building, road, stop dam, culverts, bridges, check-dam, anicut, ponds, watch tower, barriers etc. which are essential works. They are necessary for the preservation of the flora and fauna and are certainly not the commercial activities. Whether the works are done through the Department itself or on contract basis, the nature of the work shall remain the same and shall be carried out under the overall supervision of the Forest Department maintaining the norms required for preservation of the forest and the ecosystem. Clause 1(A) of the order dated 13.08.2020 also provides for maintaining proper check and balance over the construction activities carried out by the local unemployed educated technical youths of the State. The present petition deserves to be dismissed summarily.

Having considered the rival submissions of the counsel for the parties and going through the record, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Parth Prateem Sahu held that it is the duty of the Court to ensure that there is no personal gain, private motive and oblique notice behind filing of PIL. In order to preserve the purity and sanctity of the PIL, the Courts must encourage genuine and bonafide PIL and effectively discourage and curb the PIL filed for extraneous considerations.

From perusal of the return of the State, it is apparent that in order to provide employment to the unemployed technical youths of the State, the Government has taken a policy decision to get the construction works carried through contract basis. The petitioner has not shown any instance where any construction work allotted to any private contractor has been done violating the specified norms or procedure of the Department of Forest. The present petition appears to have no substance , observed the Bench.

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