Infra Projects Should Not Be Stayed As Judges Are Not Experts In Dealing With Technical Issues: SC

by PTI - Mar 22, 2022 06:49 PM +05:30 IST
Infra Projects Should Not Be Stayed As Judges Are Not Experts In Dealing With Technical Issues: SCSupreme Court

New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) In a word of caution to judiciary, the Supreme Court has said that infrastructure projects like construction of roads should not be stayed and the courts should be reluctant as mostly the “judges in robes” do not have expertise in dealing with contracts involving technical issues.

The apex court’s significant observation came in a judgement on an appeal against the two verdicts of single judge and the division bench of the Jharkhand High Court.

The high court had set aside the award of contract for reconstruction of Nagaruntari-Dhurki-Ambakhoriya Road in Jharkhand to N G Projects Limited in 2019.

A bench of justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian set aside the Jharkhand High Court verdicts by terming the interference in the contract awarded to the firm as “wholly unwarranted” which caused “loss to public interest.”

“Since the construction of the road is an infrastructure project and keeping in view the intent of the legislature that infrastructure projects should not be stayed, the High Court would have been well advised to hold its hand to stay the construction of the infrastructure project...,” said Justice Gupta in the 22-page judgement.

Observing that the construction of roads is an essential part of development of infrastructure in any state, it said that the authority which has vetted the tender document is the best person to examine the papers of the competing firms.

'In contracts involving technical issues, the courts should be even more reluctant because most of us in judges' robes do not have the necessary expertise to adjudicate upon technical issues beyond our domain,” it said.

Referring to judgments, it said that courts should not use a magnifying glass while scanning the tenders and make every small mistake appear like a big blunder.

“In fact, the courts must give ‘fair play in the joints’ to the government and public sector undertakings in matters of contract. Courts must also not interfere where such interference would cause unnecessary loss to the public exchequer,” it said.

“A word of caution ought to be mentioned herein that any contract of public service should not be interfered with lightly and in any case, there should not be any interim order derailing the entire process of the services meant for larger public good. The grant of interim injunction by the learned Single Bench of the High Court has helped no-one except a contractor who lost a contract bid and has only caused loss to the state with no corresponding gain to anyone,” it said.

Setting aside the verdicts of the high court, it said the state government has paid over Rs.3.98 crore to the firm which was awarded the contract and now its termination would cause additional financial burden on the state and also deprive the amenity of the road for a longer period.

The bench noted that there have been multiple layers of exercise of jurisdiction causing delay in final adjudication of pleas challenging the grant of tender.

“Therefore, it would be open to the High Courts or the Hon’ble Chief Justice to entrust these petitions to a Division Bench of the High Court, which would avoid at least hearing by one of the forums,” it suggested.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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