The Madras High Court bench here has dismissed a public interest litigation seeking a direction to the Managing Director of Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC) to expedite the tender to procure food materials under the Public Distribution System (PDS).

The petitioner, A. Pandi, the trustee of Centre for Public Cause, a non-governmental organisation working for farmers’ issues, had alleged that there was an ‘extraordinary delay’ by the TNCSC in finalising the final bid for the tender, resulting in a ‘serious financial loss to the public exchequer’ According to the petitioner, the TNCSC had declared that the tender bid will be opened on April 15, 2013. The bid was set to end on July 15, 2013, but the officials extended the date by three months to benefit the lowest bidder, Mr. Pandi alleged.

The extension of time and the delay in the tender also benefitted several persons who supplied food materials under short term contracts, he claimed. The tender was floated to procure one lakh tonnes of urad dhal and Canadian yellow lentil, and 50,000 tonnes of toor dhal, he added. Mr. Pandi claimed that two private industries had made the bidding already, but the officials did not award the tender to them.

The advocate general had submitted before a division bench that the petitioner had “no right vested to compel the TNCSC Managing Director to finalise the tender in favour of the two private industries.” The public interest litigation was filed on the instigation of the two suppliers, he claimed. The advocate general further submitted that the TNCSC was unable to complete the tender owing to fluctuation in prices of the dhal varieties. The tender was being conducted as per the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tender Rules, 2000, he added.

A division bench comprising Justices M. Jaichandren and M. Venugopal observed in its judgment that “We are also of the considered view that it would not be open to the petitioner to question or challenge every step being taken by the TNCSC Managing Director relating to the tender process without showing that the process adopted by the official is vitiated by arbitrariness or illegality.”

The judges ruled that “a mere allegation by the petitioner, claiming to be a public-spirited person, cannot be a sufficient ground” for the court to interfere with the proceedings of the TNCSC calling for tender.

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