Considering increasing litigations filed by contractors before the Punjab and Haryana high court, seeking directions to the Punjab and Haryana governments for the release of payment of the contracts allocated, a high court bench has restrained both states from allocating contracts without making proper budgetary allocation.
Justice K Kannan granted interim relief while taking up about 54 petitions filed by contractors of Punjab and two by contractors of Haryana, who are alleging that the respective governments have not made payments for the work allocated to them.
Directing the state governments to formulate a policy for viable and seamless settlement of claims of the contractors, the court said, “The state should act responsibly and entrust work only after appropriate budgeting for the expenses that are likely to be involved for entrusting and completion of a particular work. No contract shall be signed without making appropriate budgeting and provision for payments at the time when the works are scheduled to be complete. A delayed payment or a discretionary decision on when to release the cheque are areas where corruption is bound to result.”
The high court has asked the state governments to furnish the record of cases where the work had been completed and payments done by October 16. Along with this, in cases where the allocated work has not been completed, the states would provide information about the extent of work completed and the proportionate amount of what is payable in so far as such a course is possible shall also be given.
“Since this is a recurrent theme occurring in our courts where contractors, who have the benefit of contracts from the state, approach the court complaining of laxity on the part of the state in honouring payments for the work done, it becomes essential to give some interim directions. This is to quell the flurry of litigations in this category. A mere disposal of a representation of the respective petitioners seeking amounts to be released is seen as another occasion where the files are pushed around without taking any decision,” observed justice Kannan.
While directing the respective finance secretaries to submit reports, the high court clarified, “These directions shall not be used as an excuse for further delay in making the payments. Wherever the cheques are ready, they shall also be issued.”