HC declines relief to Karnataka company seeking to stall Goa’s mining block auction, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms

In a major relief to the state government ahead of the auction of four mining blocks, the high court of Bombay at Goa on Thursday declined to grant interim relief to Karnataka-based mining company MSPL Ltd, which sought either a stalling of the auction or an alternative direction to provide basic and essential data of mining blocks before the auction.

“Any grant of interim relief at this stage will affect the auction schedule. The entire process might be derailed. The petitioner has not explained why the voluminous information supplied is inadequate. The petitioner did not even bother to place the complete information already provided along with the notice inviting tender (NIT) on record. Based on truncated documents, this petition was instituted, circulated, and interim relief pressed,” a division bench of Justices M S Sonak and Bharat P Deshpande observed while declining to grant interim relief.

The petition challenged clause 1.3 of the tender document and clause 11(a) of the bid document to the extent that it failed to disclose the basic and essential facts such as providing essential data for the previous five years. By way of interim relief, the petitioners sought either a stalling of the auction or an alternative direction to provide basic and essential data referred to in the petition’s prayer.

Advocate for the petitioner Gopal Jain, said that while the petitioner sought basic and essential data, it had not been furnished. Jain submitted that the rules, the mandate of Article 14 and the principles of transparency require such information to be furnished so that the petitioner could take an effective part in the auction process.

“By not providing this information, the auction process is goaded in favour of the existing leaseholders who would already have such information. Therefore, the impugned clauses violate Article 14 of the Constitution, and interim relief should be granted,” Jain said.

Advocate general Devidas Pangam opposed the grant of any reliefs in the petition. “The erstwhile leaseholders had challenged their eviction from the lease areas and the division bench dismissed this petition on October 7, 2022. The special leave petition (SLP) against the said order was dismissed on November 21, 2022, and this petition has been instituted on the immediate next date. This petition is nothing but a proxy petition instituted by the erstwhile leaseholders in a bid to stall the auction process yet again,” Pangam said.

“We have considered the rival contentions in the context of the prayer for interim relief. The last date for submission of the bids is November 28, 2022. The petition was filed only on November 22, 2022 with interim reliefs to stall the process. The grievance now raised relates to the NIT published on September 30, 2022, and the alleged lack of adequate information in the same. If the petitioners were serious about the information they now press for, they could have instituted this petition much earlier,” the high court observed.

“The nexus between the dismissal of the petitions of the erstwhile leaseholders and the institution of the present petition on the following day will have to be examined. At this stage, no observations can be made on this submission of the advocate general. However, records show that this petition was instituted within 24 hours of the dismissal of the SLPs instituted by the erstwhile leaseholders who were also seeking to stall the auction process on different grounds,” high court added.

The matter has now been posted for December 14.

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