HC grants interim stay on work allotted to two contractors

The Bombay High Court on Friday stayed the work allotted to two contractors by the civic body, against whom it (BMC) had registered a first investigation report. The court observed, "No irregularities can be carried out in allotment of contracts without the active and passive participation of officials of the BMC." The interim stay will be on till the hearing on June 9.

A bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Dr Shalini Phansalkar Joshi was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Jayashree Khadilkar Pandey, demanding a stay on the contracts allotted to J Kumar Infrastructure and RPS Infrastructure.

"Though Ajoy Mehta, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner, wrote about corrupt practices adopted by the contractors on April 25, and ordered an FIR and cancelling the registrations of contractors, MCGM gave contracts to two contractors against whom the FIR was registered," observed Justice Gavai while hearing the matter.

"The FIR was registered against six contractors, Mahavir Road Infrastructure, K R Infrastructures, R K Madani Infrastructure, Reckon Infrastructure, J Kumar Infra, RPS Infra by BMC on April 27, but to issue a show-cause notice, it took 21 days. On May 4, the Standing Committee allotted work contracts to J Kumar and RPS, which have an FIR against them. They were given the task of building Hancock Bridge, Lokhandwala Creek bridge, a bridge on Mithi river and an FOB on Vikhroli station costing around s Rs 110 crore," said advocate Sariputta Sarnath, counsel of Pandey.

"It is unbelievable that the Standing Committee that cleared the work orders on May 4 was not aware of Ajoy Mehta's orders of the FIR and blacklisting process of firms on April 25," said Justice Gavai. "The authorities can't be allowed to use power against public interest. If we don't stay the matter now, tomorrow the contractors will claim that they have already started working on the contracts allotted to them and have spent money," said Justice Gavai staying the matter till June 9.

"The bidding process, as to how can contractors whose registrations are suspended bid for tenders, is also not clear," said Justice Gavai. The BMC had registered an FIR against six contractors for carrying out sub-standard road works in the city. A blacklisting process of these contractors was started, but out of the six contractors, two had again bid for work from BMC's Standing Committee, saying they could take part in the tender process as they were yet to be blacklisted. The six had caused the BMC losses of R14 crore in regular road works. Out of the 200 road works, BMC had taken samples of 34 and found irregularities.

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