-Report by Arun Bhattacharya
In the matter of M/S WELL PROTECT MANPOWER SERVICES PVT. LTD. versus DELHI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY & ANR the High Court of Delhi on Wednesday 22nd of February, reiterated the fact “it is now well settled that the power to blacklist the contractor is inherent in the party allotting the contract”.
The petitioners were successful bidders regarding an e-tender floated by the respondent which dealt with engaging security guards and security personals for a period of one year. Agreement was signed between the parties and according to its terms a 2015 work order was to be followed in the present matter too but issue arose when a show cause notice was issued against the petitioners alleging a failure of submission of necessary training certificates thus violating the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, 2005. With such allegations of the forefront, the petitioner had requested back the deposit money from the respondents along with a request to not take any action related to blacklisting or restraining them from further bidding. But the respondents had issued an order thereby blacklisting the petitioners who in turn filed the present writ petition challenging the same.
The petitioner primarily highlighted the non-necessity of providing such training certificates with respect to the aforementioned work order and that the principles of Natural Justice was violated by the respondents while debarring the petitioners from further biddings. More so, the petitioner expressed dissatisfaction regarding the arbitrary and disproportionate decision to bar them for a period three years.
The respondents while refuting all the claims of the petitioners stated that the requisite of training certificates were mandatory and perfectly in compliance with law prescribed and the work order provided. It was highlighted that the decision of blacklisting was taken on the basis of repeated failures on part of the petitioner who was unable to justify their position even after receiving repeated opportunities. Thus a breach of such contractual obligations was enough to justify their stand of debarring the petitioner.
The honorable court referring to multiple decisions like M/s Erusian Equipment & Chemicals Ltd. Vs. State of West Bengal and Another (1975) 1 SCC 70 and Joseph Vilangandan v. Executive Engineer (PWD) [(1978) 3 SCC 36] reiterated the stand taken by the Supreme Court that power to blacklist any party remains with the person providing such contract and that such decision of blacklisting shall remain beyond the purview of appellate judicial authorities, except in circumstances when the principles of natural justice are violated. The honoroble court highlighted the inability or noncompliance on part of the petitioner regarding non submission of certificates which was a requisite according to law prescribed but also pointed out the arbitrariness on part of the respondents regarding the debarment of the petitioners for a period of three years. Such debarment could only have arisen in cases of grievous offences as prescribed by the Ministry of Finance. Therefore referring to certain other judgments by the same court, the Delhi High Court quashed the impugned order and disposed of the petitioner making room for fresh inquiry regarding the same matter.
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