Sunday, September 25, 2022

Karnataka HC disposes of PIL against delayed elevated corridor from Ejipura to Koramangala

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The Karnataka High Court disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a direction to quash the tender issued by the Commissioner, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for construction of elevated corridor between Ejipura Main Road and Cambridge South Junction, Koramangala.

The petitioner, Adinarayan Shetty, who is a senior citizen and a resident of Koramangala, additionally sought a direction to appoint a committee of experts to assess the loss and damages caused due to delay in the completion of the aforesaid project.

The Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty observed that the High Court had earlier passed an order on 17.02.2022 directing the BBMP to initiate criminal proceedings, including lodging of First Information Report (FIR), against respondent No.4 (Company) for misappropriation of funds and to take an action for cancellation of the contract. However, the Court noted that the aforesaid directions, which are mandatory in nature, were issued in absence of respondent No.4.

A bench of the High Court by an order dated 29.03.2022 took note of the statement made by Senior counsel for respondent No.4 that respondent No.4 is ready to furnish an undertaking about the completion of the project of construction of elevated corridor in a time-bound manner. A bench of the High Court further took note of the fact that in case, a new agency is engaged for completion of remaining work of the project, the project may get delayed. Thereupon, respondent No.4 was directed to file an undertaking for completion of the project in a time-bound manner.

It appears to the Court that some disputes had arisen between the Chief Commissioner, BBMP and the contractor viz., respondent No.4. Therefore, the High Court  by an order dated 04.04.2022 directed the Chief Commissioner, BBMP to hold a meeting with respondent No.4 and sort out the disputes and to ascertain steps required to be taken so that the work of flyover may commence at an earliest date.

Thereafter, a meeting of officers of BBMP and respondent No.4 has been held. However, some issues viz., with regard to imposition of penalty for delay in completion of the project, furnishing of the Bank guarantee and payment of outstanding amount due to respondent No.4 have not been sorted as yet, the High Court further observed.

The Court  has heard counsel for the parties at length and held BBMP is the authority under the contract executed between the parties to take decision either with regard to extension of time for completion of project or to rescind the contract awarded to respondent No.4 for construction of elevated corridor. The BBMP should have free play to take decisions on the aforesaid aspects. 
On account of pendency of this public interest litigation and in view of interim orders passed by a bench of this court from time to time, the BBMP may not be in a position to make an independent assessment of the situation and to take a decision either to extend the time for completion of contract, sort out the disputes between it and respondent No.4 and the decision to rescind the contract.

Bearing in mind the aforesaid aspect of the matter, the Bench deemed  it appropriate to disposed of the petition with the following directions:

(i) The BBMP shall hold a meeting with respondent No.4 within a period of one  to sort out the disputes which have arisen between the parties.

(ii) The BBMP shall take an independent decision either to permit respondent No.4 to continue the contract or rescind the contract as well as to sort out the disputes arising between the parties.

(iii) The Court places on record the submission made by Senior counsel for respondent No.4 that it is ready and willing to furnish the Bank guarantee to BBMP and also the statement that it is ready and willing to complete the project within an outer limit of nine months from the day from which it is permitted to commence the construction.

(iv) The decision which may be taken by BBMP shall be communicated to the State Government. The State Government shall take a decision afresh on the proposal submitted by BBMP without being influenced by the orders dated 03.03.2022 and 09.03.2022 as well as interim orders, which have been passed by the High Court.

(v) Since the FIR has been filed in the light of the findings contained in the order dated 17.02.2022, the counsel for BBMP undertakes that the aforesaid FIR shall be withdrawn.

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