MC tenders on single bids: Setback for officials as Punjab AG says procedure adopted not valid
1,002 work orders involving Rs 788 cr awarded by Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Bathinda MCs were examined of which 50% were given on single bid and 109 after receiving two bids in the previous SAD-BJP regime.punjab Updated: Jul 24, 2017 09:34 IST
In an endorsement of action initiated by the local bodies department against eight senior officials, the Punjab advocate general has termed the procedure adopted in awarding tenders for public works worth Rs 500 crore on single bids in four municipal corporations (MCs) during the previous SAD-BJP regime “not valid”.
In a detailed legal opinion sent to the government four days ago, Punjab advocate general Atul Nanda has opined that the award of tender by way of single tender is permissible, but under “rare and exceptional circumstances”, citing a judgment of the Supreme Court and guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on tendering. “There is material on record to show that there has been no application of law or facts in terms of the court order or that of the CVC guidelines at least in cases tested and examined by the chief vigilance officer (CVO, local bodies department). This is enough cause for concern and action by the department,” he advised.
The CVO had examined a total of 1,002 work orders involving Rs 788 crore awarded by the municipal corporations of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Bathinda. “Of these, 512 (approximately 50%) of public works were awarded on single bid basis and another 109 work orders were issued after receiving two bids,” says the CVO’s report to the department on June 19, 2017.
On the basis of these findings, local bodies minister Navjot Sidhu decided to place four superintending engineers – PK Goel, Kulwinder Singh, Pawan Sharma and Dharam Singh – under suspension for allegedly allotting civil works without following due procedures and MC laws. “The IAS officers who had allegedly approved these work orders while being the commissioners of these corporations will also be chargesheeted. They are Ghanshyam Thori, GS Khera and Sonali Giri,” said the minister at a press conference two weeks ago.
Later, Sidhu gave a “public hearing” to the four superintending engineers, who were suspended by him, in his office to hear their point of view. One of them said he had followed the rules set by Public Infrastructure Development Board in 2011 and the allotment was done through the deputy commissioner’s committee. The other three claimed they had followed the laid down procedures and the works were not executed by the MC, but the distribution urban infrastructure committees. The officials have been citing a circular issued regarding guidelines for acceptance of single bids.
The local bodies department then sought Nanda’s opinion on whether the award of tender by way of single tender is permissible in law and if so, in what circumstances. The advocate general’s opinion was also sought on whether the procedure, adopted presently for consideration and grant of such tenders, is valid, legal and proper and whether the circular, which was issued by the department, is in conformity with law, having any binding effect on municipal corporations.
Nanda has also advised that the circular is not in conformity with law and has no binding effect. “The circular cannot override the law laid down by the Supreme Court or the CVC guidelines. It only provides for two conditions subject to which a single bid may be accepted i.e. the bid is reasonable and competitive and is so certified. This circular waters-down the law laid down by SC and the CVC guidelines and is hence clearly in conflict,” says the AG’s opinion.
First Published: Jul 23, 2017 23:57 IST