M A I N   N E W S

Setbacks for Punjab Govt
Reauction liquor vends, orders SC
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 15
The Supreme Court today directed the Punjab Government to have fresh bids for auctioning of the liquor vends in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr districts, which were quashed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in March on the allegations of “manipulation” at the behest of some influential liquor traders.

With this order, the apex court virtually upheld the high court order quashing the auction in these districts following a bunch of petitions, which said that it was not “fairly” done. The high court had also ordered the state government to have fresh bids.

A Bench of Mr Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Mr Justice A.R. Lakshmanan passed the order after viewing the video tapes of the auction process, which had been recorded by the Punjab Government’s Excise Department.

“The new licencees will be allowed to start their shops from November 15,” the court said.

But the court made it clear to the parties that in the process of auction, the financial interests of the Punjab Government should not suffer and if any loss was caused to it, the same should be “made good” of the “deposited” amount of the parties concerned.

To provide adequate protection to the financial interests of the state, the court further said, “If the bid amount (in fresh bids) is not higher than the existing bid amount, the successful bidder in the impugned order (of the high court) will be given the vends.”

The court at the same time ordered the Punjab Government to refund within two weeks the deposited amount of AR Traders and JK Traders, who were not considered for the biddings held in March this year, which was consequently quashed by the high court.

While disposing of the Punjab Government’s special leave petition (SLP) against the high court order, the Bench directed that any related litigation before the high court should be disposed of expeditiously.

Senior advocate P.P. Rao appearing for the Punjab Government and Mr Arun Jaitley for one of the litigating party, told the court that the new bids would only cater to a period of five months of the current financial year as fresh auctions had to be made for the next financial year in March, 2005.


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