In a major embarrassment for the government, the Bombay high court recently set aside an April 2008 mining contract awarded by the erstwhile state minister for mining.
The contract in question was awarded to Akash Universal Pvt. Ltd for mining bauxite ore on 95.57 hectares of land in Ratnagiri. A division bench of justice SA Bobde and justice VK Tahilramani noted that the minister had rejected tenders of two bidders on grounds that they were new entrants in the field, but granted lease to an inexperienced Akash Universal (P) Ltd. only because it was an ‘emerging entrepreneur’.
The court found the minister’s decision arbitrary as he had rejected the bids on the ground that they were new entrants in the field of mining and had no experience.
“There is no reason why a different yardstick ought to have been applied to the case of respondent no.3 (Akash Universal) apparently on the ground that the respondent no. 3 is an emerging entrepreneur,” the court said.