Observing that a Minister cannot nullify a contract awarded by an authorised government officer in the absence of a specific rule, the Bombay High Court recently set aside a decision of Anil Deshmukh, Food and Civil Supplies Minister in the Ashok Chavan Government.

Mr. Deshmukh in his order dated August 16 had set aside the contract for sugar transport, awarded to a Bhandara-based Venkatesh Trading Company by the Additional Collector, Nagpur.

The Division bench of Justices S A Bobde and Mrudula Bhatkar reversed the Minister's decision last month.

The Additional Collector had floated the tender for transport of sugar from factories to the government godowns for a period of three years. But since only the petitioner's bid was found to be eligible, time for acceptance of bids was extended and some more bids were received. Eventually, out of four eligible bids, the petitioner's bid was found to be lowest in price, so it won the contract.

Two other bidders, whose bids were found to be ineligible, applied to the Minister seeking quashing of the tender process.-- PTI