The Bombay High Court on Wednesday set aside Thane Municipal Corporation’s decision to grant a composite contract of fishing, boating and clearing of Masunda lake to a proprietary company for 25 years.
In July 2001, TMC had granted the contract to a private firm, Precision Fisheries, without inviting tenders. The earlier contractor, Sonlaxmi Machchhimar Co-operative Society had challenged the decision before the high court contending it was contrary to the civic body’s resolutions and the award of contract was against its interest.
A division bench of Justice P.B. Majmudar and Justice R.M. Sawant termed the civic body’s decision to grant the contract to Precision Fisheries as arbitrary and directed TMC to invite fresh tenders, and allot a fresh contract within four months.
Till then, the bench has allowed Precision Fisheries to continue with the contract.
The bench observed: “We are of the opinion that giving lease for such a long period of 25 years and that too without issuing any advertisement and without inviting tenders, the corporation has acted in an arbitrary manner.”
While Sonalaxmi Society, which had the contract for fishing, boating and clearing of the lake situated in the heart of Thane till October 2001, was paying annual charges of Rs 4.27 lakh, the Thane civic body had fixed the charges at Rs 2 lakh for Precision Fisheries.
“Every action of the public authority must be informed with reason and should be free from arbitrariness. The corporation, on the basis of presence of influential persons, cannot take arbitrary decision keeping others in dark,” the bench further observed.
The bench has, however, stayed its own decision for two months to enable Precision Fisheries to approach the Apex Court challenging the decision.