J&K High Court modifies interim order to pave way for stalled key police projects


Jammu: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has paved the way for the construction of key police projects involving national security matters, modifying an interim order passed in March last year.

The interim order had stalled important police projects such as the construction of a battalion headquarters in Kishtwar and an anti-corruption bureau office in Udhampur.

“The court is of the opinion that to buttonhole the project is in nobody’s interest but is only antithetical to public interest…the project, in question, relates to larger public interest, more so, when the question of national security is involved,” Justice Wasim Sadiq Nargal said in his 12-page order passed last week.

The court said the respondents had “misinterpreted the staying of the communication as a stay on the entire tender process”.

The bench said was hearing an application filed by Senior Additional Advocate General Monika Kohli on behalf of the government, seeking vacation of the interim order passed by the high court on March 1, 2023 on a petition filed by a contractor.

The contractor had moved the court over a communication issued on February 20, 2023 stating that the progress executed by the petitioner’s firm was less than Rs 10.5 crore and requested that all the related correspondence made earlier be treated as ‘null and void’. This resulted in withdrawal of all the earlier certificates issued to him, therefore causing hindrance in the new contractual works.

Kohli argued that the interim order was operating harshly against the respondents as the prestigious police projects such as the construction of Indian Reserve Police battalion headquarters at Kishtwar and construction of Anti-Corruption Bureau Office in Kathori-Patnitop village in Udhampur, at a cost of Rs 1,752 lakh and Rs 1,713.50 lakh, respectively have been held to ransom.

After hearing the counsels appearing for both sides, the court said it found force in the arguments made by Kohli and held continuation of the interim direction to be in nobody’s interest, saying it would serve no fruitful purpose to the parties, let alone the petitioner who was declared as the lowest bidder.

“Rather, this court views the perpetuation of the interim direction by way of an obstacle to adjudicate the rights of the petitioner which have been projected in the instant petition and the petitioner is surely going to get no leverage out of it, if the same is continued,” the bench said.

The judge said there was no blanket stay order which could have caused legal impediment for the respondents to have finalise the tender.

“The respondents have misinterpreted the staying of the communication as a stay on the entire tender process,” the order said, adding that the court deemed it proper to modify the interim order by giving liberty to the respondents to proceed with the tender issued on August 6, 2022, or publish another tender, if circumstances so warrant.

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