Smelling a raincoat scam, HC stays tribal dept's June 22 order

Jul 07, 2016, 07:20 IST | Vinay Dalvi

After the multi-crore chikki scam, the state government has been accused of a more seasonal variant: a raincoat scam. The tribal department is in trouble after the HC stayed an order for the purchase of raincoats for students from tribal areas, citing ‘malafide intentions.’

The state government had issued a tender to buy raincoats for school children in tribal areas. Representational pic
The state government had issued a tender to buy raincoats for school children in tribal areas. Representational pic

The state’s tribal department is in a soup after the Bombay High Court stayed the orders issued by it on buying raincoats for schools in tribal areas, as it was violating the state government’s General Resolution to buy raincoats. “We suspect the tenders issued by you are with malafide intentions,” Justice Ranjit More and Justice Anuja Prabhudesai observed, while staying the whole process of buying raincoats.

According to the petitioner, Super Polymers, who were represented by senior counsel Sanjiv Gorwadkar, the state had called for tenders in March to buy raincoats for tribal children. But, when they reached the last stage, the state suddenly cancelled the process. The tender was to the tune of Rs 7 crore.

June circular
On June 22, the Secretary of Tribal Department allegedly issued a circular to all the schools and principals of state-government run schools that fall under tribal areas to buy raincoats for children with a maximum value of R3 lakh per principal.

When Super Polymers came to know about it, it approached the HC citing that the orders given by Tribal Secretary was in violation of the state government’s General Resolution issued on September 16, 2015, which barred the principals from making any purchase above Rs 50,000.

If they intended to purchase more than that, they should refer it to state government, which would then decide on whether to carry out an e-tendering process or buy directly. The petitioner also claimed that the raincoats bought through e-tendering will be better, as they are tested in laboratories.

Listening to the petitioner’s counsel Gorwadkar, the HC bench stayed the purchase on June 24 for the areas of Jawhar, Palghar, Nashik and Thane. But on July 1, the bench was again informed by the petitioner that now other areas in state had started the purchase of raincoats and other principals of tribal schools were citing the June 22 order that allowed them to purchase raincoats costing up to Rs 3 lakh.

The petitioner claimed that the documents and the order were fraudulent and it was made sure that the letter was issued before the June 24 order of the HC, which stayed the proceedings.

Stay in certain areas?
The state also claimed that they thought the proceedings were stayed only for Jawhar, Nashik and Thane and carried out purchases for other areas. Justice More then asked PP Kakde, assistant general pleader of state to bring all the documents that allowed principals to purchase raincoats to the value of Rs 3 lakh and file it in front of them. Kakde said they have given the documents to the bench.

The bench has now seized all the files and has kept the matter for hearing on July 11, staying all purchases. The bench was of the opinion that something was wrong in the purchase process. “Weren’t you aware that rains were coming? Can’t you buy raincoats in advance?” said Justice More while staying the matter again.

Rs3 lakh
The upper limit per school in purchasing raincoats, according to the tribal dept’s order

Rs 50,000
The upper limit per school for purchasing raincoats, according to the state government’s GR

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