Excise policy: HC sends plea challenging e-tender of Delhi govt before Chief Justice's bench
A Delhi High Court bench Monday directed to place before the Chief Justice a petition challenging e-tender notice of the Delhi government, prescribing the procedure to be followed for inviting zone wise electronic bids for grant of 32 licences of retail vends of liquor here.
The court sent the matter to the bench headed by Chief Justice after a controversy arose as to which bench should hear the plea since several similar petitions relating to the new Excise Policy are pending before the Chief Justice's bench.
While the counsel for the petitioner submitted that this petition is only challenging the tender issued by the Delhi government and as a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh is having the roster to hear tender matters, it should hear it, Delhi government's counsel vehemently objected it saying this is also relating to the excise policy and shall be heard by the Chief Justice's bench.
The bench said since this controversy is arising and the Chief Justice being the master of roster' he shall decide which bench to hear the petition.
The bench also said it was not having any particular interest in hearing this matter.
To resolve this controversy, we direct to place this matter before Division Bench-I headed by the Chief Justice, since DB-I is seized of other matters We leave it to the bench headed by the Chief Justice to decide which bench should hear the present petition, the bench of Justices Sanghi and Singh said while sending the plea before the bench headed by the Chief Justice for Tuesday.
The bench added, in the last hearing also we had said this is purely a tender matter and we have this tender roster. If we find it is overlapping with the policy challenge, we will send it to Division Bench-I.
The bench was hearing a plea by petitioner Robin Chaudhary on behalf of retailers selling liquor in Delhi, challenging the terms and conditions of the e-tender.
Senior advocate Rajiv Nayar and Sandeep Sethi, representing the petitioner, submitted that the terms of the tender are unreasonable and added that they were not challenging the new excise policy.
They said since they are not challenging the policy and they are interested in participating in the tender by submitting the bid, this bench is dealing with tender matters as per roster so it should continue with the hearing.
However, senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, vehemently objected saying some of the grounds taken here in this tender petition are overlapping with the grounds taken in other pleas challenging the excise policy and pending before the Chief Justice's bench, which shall hear this matter.
Mehra contended it was a case of forum shopping and when other similar matters were pending before the Chief Justice's bench, there was no occasion of placing this petition before another bench.
The Delhi government was also represented through standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi.
Meanwhile, the bench also transferred to the Chief Justice's bench another petition, filed by Delhi Consumer Cooperative Wholesale Store Karamchari union, relating to challenge to the new excise policy for Tuesday.
Several petitions have been filed challenging the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 alleging that it was illegal, unfair, arbitrary and violative of the Delhi Excise Act, 2009.
They have also sought to quash the June 28 e-tender notice of Delhi government, prescribing the procedure to be followed for inviting zone wise electronic bids for grant of 32 zonal licences of retail vends of liquor for supply of Indian and foreign liquor brands in the national capital.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh had refused to stay the new Excise Policy which, according to retail shop owners, will lead to cartelisation and had said it will consider this plea on the next date.