SC refuses to interfere with Uttarakhand HC order directing CBI probe into award of parking contract

Expressing surprise over the state government challenging a CBI probe, the Supreme Court has refused to interfere with an order of the Uttarakhand High Court directing an investigation into the award of a parking contract by the state’s irrigation department.

A bench of justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal dismissed the appeal filed by the Uttarakhand government.

“We understand the contractor coming to the court, but we are surprised that the state government has filed the appeal against the high court order,” the bench observed.

The top court said it was sure that the CBI will conduct the investigation in a fair manner uninfluenced by tentative observations made by the high court in the impugned order.

“After having heard the Solicitor General and the senior counsel appearing for the petitioners, we find that there is no reason to interfere with the impugned order directing investigation through the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

“It is obvious that the observations made in the impugned order are for the limited purposes of coming to the conclusion that the investigation through CBI is required and the same shall not be understood as the findings recorded by the High Court on merits,” the bench said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the state government.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by the Uttarakhand government challenging the October 20, 2023 order of the high court setting aside a parking contract awarded by the irrigation department by observing that the contract awarded was illegal and contrary to the tender terms.

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“This court is of the view that the conduct of the concerned officials, who appear to be hand in glove with the two firms owned by real brothers and the role of the said two firms should be investigated by an independent investigating agency like CBI and as such, after considering the material on record, this court comes to the conclusion that the present matter falls within the principles enunciated by the constitution bench of the Supreme Court and we are satisfied that the material available on record does disclose a prima facie case calling for an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation,” the high court had said.

The high court’s order had come on a plea challenging the award of a parking contract to an individual on government land in Haridwar initially, in the first phase for 400 days and thereafter, in the second phase for 229 days i.e. for total 629 days, citing deviations from the tender’s conditions.

The petitioner argued that as per the condition of the tender notice, period of tender can extended, if parking area is declared as zero parking zone or containment zone during the Covid pandemic, but no such record is available with the authorities.

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