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Biolin Kurbah v/s Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. & Another

Company & Directors' Information:- N. P. PETROLEUM LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U23201UP1995PLC018153

Company & Directors' Information:- S V S PETROLEUM PRIVATE LIMITED [Active] CIN = U51909DL2002PTC116940

Company & Directors' Information:- INDIA PETROLEUM COMPANY LIMITED [Dissolved] CIN = U99999MH1936PTC002453

    WA No. 11 of 2021

    Decided On, 01 October 2021

    At, High Court of Meghalaya


    For the Petitioner: K. Khan, Sr. Advocate. For the Respondents: R1, H.L. Shangreiso, Sr. Advocate, P. Biswakarma, R2, L. Lyngdoh, Advocates.

Judgment Text

Oral Judgment

Biswanath Somadder, CJ.

The instant writ appeal arises in respect of a judgment and order dated 9th December, 2019, passed by a learned Single Judge in WP (C) No.466 of 2018 (Smti. Biolin Kurbah v. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited & anr). By the impugned judgment and order, the learned Single Judge proceeded to dismiss the writ petition.

The appellant before us is the writ petitioner.

The brief facts of the case are as follows:-

The respondent No.1 (Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited) on 5th November, 2014, had put up an advertisement in the Local Dailies for appointment of Regular/Rural Retail Outlet Dealerships, in East Khasi Hills District, Meghalaya. The writ petitioner, accordingly, had applied for the same and submitted the particulars, which the respondents however found wanting and by letter dated 24th October, 2016, the writ petitioner was requested to make some corrections in the documents which had been submitted earlier. The pleaded case of the writ petitioner is that even after submission of the corrected documents, the respondent, vide letter dated 12th January, 2017, rejected the application of the writ petitioner on the ground that the writ petitioner?s candidature was not found to be eligible for allotment of the Dealership as the land offered did not meet the National Highway norms. The writ petitioner, thereafter, against the said rejection had filed a representation on 21st January, 2017, before the respondent No. 1, but the same was also rejected for reasons stated therein. Being aggrieved, the writ petitioner assailed the impugned decision of the respondent No. 1 by filing a writ petition.

A plain reading of the impugned judgment and order reveals that the learned Single Judge heard out the matter extensively after exchange of affidavits. After considering all aspects of the matter, the learned Single Judge came to the following conclusion:-

“13. From the materials it is seen that the petitioner had preferred an appeal before the respondent No. 1 on 21.01.2017 and at Para-2, 3 and 4 of the said appeal, submitted that the plot had a frontage of 125 meter and distance of 17 meters from the 3.5 meters road from the edge of the frontage, and projected therein that with the new permutation and combination of the measurements of the same location, the same would come within the norms as stipulated by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. It is to be noted that this redefinition was not as per the submitted application wherein it was clearly stated that the frontage was 100 meters. The respondent No. 1 by letter dated 29.3.2017 rejected the said appeal for reconsideration citing the non-compliance of Dealers Selection Guidelines, 2014.

14. Another pertinent fact which is noted by this Court is the letter in which the petitioner has taken to be the foundation for her case, which had allowed her to correct and file additional documents is dated 24.10.2016. The Land Evaluation Committee report dated 27.12.2016 which is subsequent to the said letter (annexed to show cause of the respondent No. 1 filed on 11.10.2019) was based on an evaluation which was conducted in the presence of the petitioner and duly signed on that day itself by her, which showed the frontage and size of land the same as had been submitted earlier in the application. The said report also indicated that the land was unsuitable as it did not meet the NHAI norms. The shifting stand of the petitioner therefore does not convince this Court as to the genuineness of her claim or that the respondent No. 1 arbitrarily rejected her application even after rectification.

15. As aforementioned the allotment of Retail Outlets is to be as per the stated guidelines coupled with the prescribed norms of NHAI. In the instant case, firstly the contention of the petitioner that she had been allowed to submit additional documents with regard to the offered plot does not seem to be a valid ground, inasmuch as, the submission as far as it concerned the location was only limited to „the location name mentioned in the advocate?s letter?. The guidelines as given in Note „d? to Clause „L? has specifically stipulated that rectified or additional documents would be accepted only if they are pertaining to the information provided in the application form. The petitioner by her representation seeking to redefine the dimensions, will not come within the meaning of the permitted rectification or an additional document. Further, the petitioner having participated in the Evaluation conducted by the LEC and not having raised any objections as to the findings, that too the same which was conducted on 27.12.2016 much after the letter dated 24.10.2016 had been communicated to the petitioner, it cannot be held that the respondent No. 1 had acted unreasonably or arbitrarily in rejecting the petitioner?s application.

16. The judgment so placed by learned counsel for the respondent No. 2, though more of persuasive value is relevant as the judgment was rendered in more or less similar facts in which the Bombay High Court had also taken into consideration the prescribed guidelines for allotment of Retail Outlets.

17. For the foregoing facts and circumstances, there being no infirmity in the selection process, this writ petition is accordingly dismissed.

18. No order as to costs.”

Before us, the learned advocate representing the appellant (being the writ petitioner) essentially reiterated the submissions made before the learned Single Judge. He also took us through the relevant documents including the letter of the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) dated 12th January, 2017, addressed to the appellant/writ petitioner and her reply dated 21st January, 2017. On the other hand, the learned advocate representing HPCL has also taken us through various documents including HPCL?s letter dated 29th March, 2017, whereby, the appellant/writ petitioner was categorically informed regarding her letter dated 21st January, 2017, wherein she had mentioned that the plot offered by her had a frontage of 125 meters, which was not matching with the frontage of the plot as given in her original application, sketch map as well as the lease deed. In the said letter dated 29th March, 2017, the HPCL has further specifically stated as follows:

“In this regard please note that no change in offered land dimension is allowed.”

Learned advocate representing HPCL has also taken us to the format of Land Evaluation conducted by a Land Evaluation Committee (LEC), which had found the land to be not suitable. Learned advocate representing the HPCL has also referred to the typed copy of the original application signed by the appellant/writ petitioner on 27th December, 2016, which provides for the layout sketch of the land offered by her with the following declaration:-

“I hereby confirm that the above mentioned details of the plot offered by me are correct and site has been inspected by the Company Officials as mentioned below I also understand that in case any of the details mentioned above are found incorrect or the site is found unsuitable by the Corporation for any reason whatsoever then I would have no claim on the dealership of this location.”

According to the learned advocate representing HPCL, the letter written by the appellant/writ petitioner dated 21st January, 2017, (which contains a revised sketch map), tantamounts to effecting a change in the land dimension originally offered, which is not permissible.

After considering the respective submissions made by the learned advocates for the parties and upon perusing the impugned judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge dated 9th December, 2019, we are of the view that all the points which have been raised before us have been meticulously considered by the learned Single Judge and have been extensively dealt with in the impugned judgment and order. In an Intra-Court Mandamus appeal, interference is usually warranted only when palpable infirmities or perversities are noticed. On a plain reading of the impugned judgment and order, we do not notice any such infirmity or perversity. Rather, we find that the judgment and order is supported with cog

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ent and justifiable reasons. There is no doubt – in the fact of the instant case – that the appellant/writ petitioner, by her representation dated 21st January, 2017, was essentially seeking to redefine the original land dimensions and the same cannot come within the meaning of permitted rectification or an additional document. The learned Single Judge has even taken note of this fact, as also the fact that the appellant/writ petitioner, having participated in the evaluation conducted by a Land Evaluation Committee (LEC), had not raised any objection to its finding and as such it cannot be held that the concerned authority had acted unreasonably or arbitrarily in rejecting the application of the appellant/writ petitioner. For reason stated above, we do not find any merit in the instant Intra-Court Mandamus appeal, which is liable to be dismissed and stands accordingly dismissed along with MC (WA) No.59 of 2021.