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Monday, March 14, 2016

HILTRON.-Smart Card based driving licence and vehicle registration certificate. = “ The fact remains that it is not necessary for the State to invite tender in all cases. The fact remains that it is not necessary for the State to buy a product at the lowest price. The State has a choice to buy a better product at a higher price. But the law is settled that whatever the State is doing, the same must be transparent. Unless the intention to enter into such a contract is made public, there cannot be any transparency in the entering into that contract. The process of finalizing the contract being shrouded with thick blackness, the whole thing is bad.”

                                                              NON-REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.2470 OF 2016
                   (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 36061/2013)



      SCORE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES LTD.         APPELLANT

                                VERSUS

      SRIYASH TECHNOLOGIES LTD. & ORS.            RESPONDENTS


                                  J U D G M E N T

      KURIAN, J.


1.    Leave granted.

2.    The  appellant  herein  was  the  respondent  No.4  in  Writ  Petition
No.1087/2007 on the file of the  High  Court  of  Uttarakhand  at  Nainital.
That writ petition was filed by  respondent  No.1  herein,  challenging  the
award  of  project  of  Smart  Card  based  driving  licence   and   vehicle
registration certificate.  Though it may not be necessary  to  go  into  the
facts in detail, still it is significant to note  that  respondent  No.3  in
the Writ Petition, namely, HILTRON is  a  Public  Sector  Undertaking,  with
whom the State of  Uttarakhand  had  entered  into  an  MOU  for  providing,
facilitating and  marketing  information  technology  solutions  within  the
State of  Uttarakhand.   HILTRON  was  also  nominated  as  the  Information
Technology and Communication service provider for various Departments, Semi-
Government  Departments  and  Institutions,
etc.  HILTRON and Transport Commissioner of Uttarakhand entered into an  MOU
with regard to the project of Smart Card based driving licence  and  vehicle
registration certificate. HILTRON in turn  nominated  the  appellant  herein
for execution of the project work.  That MOU with HILTRON was challenged  by
the respondent No.1 herein (petitioner before the  High  Court).   According
to  them,  the  award  of  the  project  to  HILTRON  on  the  basis  of  an
understanding between the Transport Commissioner  and  the  undertaking  was
impermissible  under  law,  being  violative  of  Article  14.    Therefore,
necessarily any arrangement made by the HILTRON with any other  party  would
also have to be set at naught.  The learned Single Judge dismissed the  Writ
Petition holding that there was no illegality on the part of the  State  and
the Transport Commissioner in getting the work of Smart Card  based  driving
licence and vehicle registration  certificate,  etc.  done  through  HILTRON
with the assistance of the appellant herein.  The above  conclusion  of  the
learned Single Judge was based on the  finding  that  the  writ  petitioners
were not competitors qualified for execution of the project  and  hence  the
intra court-before the Division Bench.
3.    Though, there are serious disputes on those aspects as to whether  the
writ petitioners were qualified or not,  ultimately what the Division  Bench
did  is  only  to  set  aside   the  arrangement   between   the   Transport
Commissioner and the

HILTRON.  In the impugned judgment  dated  24.07.2013,  the  Division  Bench
held as under:

 “ The fact remains that it is not necessary for the State to invite  tender
in all cases.  The fact remains that it is not necessary for  the  State  to
buy a product at the lowest price.  The State has a choice to buy  a  better
product at a higher price.  But the law is settled that whatever  the  State
is doing, the same must be transparent.  Unless the intention to enter  into
such a contract is made public, there cannot  be  any  transparency  in  the
entering into that contract.  The process of finalizing the  contract  being
shrouded with thick blackness, the whole thing is bad.”

4.    Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the  writ  petition  was  also
allowed setting aside the arrangement made  by  the  Transport  Commissioner
with the HILTRON-Respondent No.3 in the High Court.
5.    HILTRON is not before this Court in  challenging  the  judgment.   The
judgment is challenged only by respondent No.4 in the writ petition who  had
entered into an MOU with HILTRON for execution of the  project work.
6.    Shri Shyam Divan, learned senior counsel appearing for  the  appellant
contends  that  the  learned  Single  Judge  having  found  that  the   writ
petitioners had no locus-standi and thus, dismissed the writ  petition,  the
Division Bench was not justified in addressing  the  issue  on  a  different
angle.  We find it difficult to appreciate  this  contention.   Whether  the
writ petitioners were qualified for the execution of the project work is  to
be seen only when the qualification is  to  be  addressed  by  the  quarters
concerned while awarding the work.
7. Be that as it may, the MOU was entered into between the  parties  in  the
year  2006 and since one decade has elapsed, we are of  the  view  that  the
whole issue must be addressed afresh  by  the  State,  in  case  it  is  not
already addressed.
8.    In public interest, we are also of the  view  that  the  State  should
take steps,  if  not  already  taken,  for  execution  of  the  project,  in
accordance with law expeditiously.
9.    With the above observations, this appeal is disposed of with no  order
as to costs.
10.   However, we make it clear that this order shall not stand in  the  way
of the appellant to work out his  grievances  with  HILTRON  in  appropriate
proceedings.


                                             .................J.
                                       [KURIAN JOSEPH]



                                                      ....................J.
                                                     [ROHINTON FALI NARIMAN]
 NEW DELHI;
  MARCH 03, 2016

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