Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Chhattisgarh High Court disposes PIL raising grievance over non distribution of mobile phones under Chhattisgarh Sanchar Kranti Scheme

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The Chhattisgarh High Court disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) raising grievance that the respondent authorities failed to distribute the mobile phones under the Chhattisgarh Sanchar Kranti Scheme (CG-SKY).  

The PIL filed by an Ex-Sarpanch prayed for the following relief:
– direct to the respondent authorities to distribute smart phones to the beneficiary/public at large in the village panchayat Nawgawan, Block Baloda, District Janjgir-Champa (C.G.) 
-to direct to the respondent authorities to erect tower for providing better network to the public at large in the Village Panchayat, Nawagan, Block Baloda, District Janjgir-Champa (C.G.) 

Ashish Tiwari, Government Advocate, submitted that the petitioner  has moved this PIL for advancing his own personal and political interest and there is no element of public interest involved in this petition.

He pointed out that the decision of the State Government to distribute the mobile phones has been withdrawn by notification dated 11.02.2021 published in the gazette on 17.02.2021.

So far as the grievance of the petitioner with regard to erection of mobile towers are concerned, those towers for which sanction has been granted will be erected in terms of clause (2) of the notification dated 11.02.2021.

The relevant part of the notification dated 11.02.2021 reads as under: 
“1. Decision on return of un-distributed mobile phones:- 
1.1. The undistributed 7,51,011 mobile sets from Phase-I are not to be distributed. These mobile sets are in the custody of supplier firm, they are to be returned by mutual consent. 
1.2 In accordance with the RFP Clause 12.2 , it is mandatory to purchase minimum 60% mobile devices of the total tendered quantity. The mobile sets are to be returned to the supplier after obtaining the consent for giving relaxation on this condition. 
2. Decision on network expansion:- 
2.1 According to the provisions of the SKY Scheme, if any village is not covered under the network expansion by installing the required number of towers, then the penalty is to be recovered from the supplier as per Annexure-XXI of the RFP. This penalty shall be imposed at the rate of 0.025% per thousand smart phones per week on the contractor for every tower which has not been installed. 
2.2 For providing coverage to uncovered villages in Phase-I, the contractor is to install remaining towers. 
2.3 The contractor is also to install towers in remaining villages of Phase-II to provide coverage according to original contract. 
2.4 For the installation of towers to be set up in the Phase-II, all the facilities as mentioned in the RFP and contract are to be provided to the Contractor. 
2.5 The facilities given by the government as per the contract will not be extended to any other tower which is not in the list of previously agreed and pre-provisioned towers. In such situation, the concerned local bodies and government institutions will be free to take appropriate action as per the rules and provisions.

From perusal of the above, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Sanjay K. Agrawal observed that the grievance raised in this petition by the petitioner stands redressed in light of the notification dated 11.02.2021 and there is no surviving cause of action. As such, no interference is called for at this stage.

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