The judges and some staff at the Bombay High Court (HC) and its benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa will be a very punctual lot, now that they have received watches to mark the 150 years of the Bombay High Court. Surprisingly, the 2,850 custom Titan wristwatches which were distributed, were in the thick of controversy over flouted tender norms.
Last year, the HC administration had proposed to procure 2,850 wristwatches, costing Rs 26,53,350 (‘2,850 watches to mark 150 years of HC?’, October 18). However, sources said that the authorities had overlooked the tendering process a must for any expenditure above Rs 50,000.
Documents in the possession of MiD DAY reveal that these watches had made their way onto the wrists of judges and staff. “The wrist watches were distributed to the staff members of this Hon’ble Court including its benches at Aurangabad, Nagpur and Panaji-Goa. One wrist watch was distributed to each of the Hon’ble Judges of this court,” states a letter by DV Sawant, Prothonotary and Senior Master of the High Court.
The letter, dated December 17, goes on to clarify that no watches were given to any member of the Bar Council or any other person. MiD DAY is also in possession of copies of delivery reports from Gati Ltd’s website which prove that the timepieces had reached their destinations between October 23 and October 25.
Quotations for the deal were invited from three distributors of Titan watches Titan industries Ltd at Bandra (East), World of Titan at Dadar (West) and World of Titan at Colaba. Each watch was being sold at a market value of Rs 1,225.
The Bandra (East) outlet, which bagged the deal, offered the watches for just Rs 931 each. Advocate Siddharth Murarka, convener of Mission Justice, who filed the RTI said, “It is unusual that the watches were purchased without following a bidding process. Even though three outlets were consulted, the manufacturer is still the same – Titan.”
Bombay HC (Principal Seat): 1,215 + 607
Goa Bench: 107
Nagpur Bench: 503
Aurangabad Bench: 418