Delhi HC halts tendering process in maintaining parks by DDA
- A bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli also called upon the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to examine the matter and inform whether a full-fledged probe was required against the erring officials.
The Delhi high court on Friday stayed the awarding of tenders by the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA’s) horticulture department in maintaining over 700 parks across the city, indicting the agency for alleged corruption and malpractices.
A bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli also called upon the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to examine the matter and inform whether a full-fledged probe was required against the erring officials.
The court also said that the actions could not have taken place without the blessings of local inspectors and other staff of the DDA, pointing to their connivance with contractors.
The bench stayed the process of finalising all the tenders that have not been awarded yet. It also added that the ones which have been awarded after filing of the petition, would remain subject to further orders of the present matter.
The court also issued notice to the Central Vigilance Commission to look into the matter while asking Kanwaljeet Arora, secretary, Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA), to give suggestions as to how the process could be improved.
“The ways the tenders are structured and awarded, it is evident that there are serious malpractices and corruption,” the court said.
The order comes while hearing a plea by a contractor Sanjay Sharma, who had sought to cancel or recall a tender issued by the horticulture department, Dwarka in October, 2020, for the maintenance of park area, lawns, tree plantations, sweeping of paths in the Sector 19 district park, Dwarka.
The petition, filed through advocate Mohit Gupta, had said that due to the faulty clause of taking the minimum wages in structuring a tender for maintaining parks, the bidders had ended up quoting the same amounts. It had said that since the number of workers wanted are seven, the price is coming as same for all the contractors.
It had said that the clauses were framed without factoring the service charges, labour cess, bonus component, wages payable to skilled supervisors and other expenses in terms of the tender.
The plea had also sought that cost of logistics borne by a contractor is also taken in account while finalizing the successful bids. Earlier the DDA had submitted that bidders and contractors apply for small tenders incurring losses to gain experience.
The counsel contended that corruption to the tune of crores is taking place due to the consideration of bids on the basis of minimum wages, as the final bidder is chosen on the basis of draw of lots, after the bids are common. It has said that since the clause for all the tenders is the same, this would have a bearing on several people.
On November 27 last year, the court had stayed the land owning agency from issuing the Letter of Acceptance in the said tender.
On Friday, senior advocate Sudhanshu Batra, appearing for the contractor, told the court that 300 tenders for maintaining the parks have been floated since April 2020 while quoting the minimum wages leading to the same bidding amount.
He also said that 40 tenders alone were floated even after the November 27, 2020 order of staying the tender to maintain the park at Dwarka, Sector-19.
Senior advocate Rajiv Bansal, appearing for the DDA, told the court that the agency is conscious of the malpractices ongoing in the tender process. He said that the vice chairman of DDA has taken note of the problem and every effort would be made to rectify this.
However, the court said that the DDA should have been vigilant and pulled up the agency for not acting on the corrupt practices despite knowing.
The DDA spokesperson refused to comment on the issue despite repeated attempts.