Shrikant D. Kulkanri, J.1. Rule. Rule made returnable forthwith. With the consent of the parties, the petition is taken up for final disposal at admission stage.2. The petitioner is challenging Clauses 8 and 9.1 of the Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018 issued by the Food and Civil Supply and Consumer protection Department, Government of Maharashtra, relating to the allotment of handling contract of goods and food grains at Government godowns.Factual Matrix:3. The petitioner is a contractor duly registered with respondent No.5 Mathadi Board under the Maharashtra Mathadi, Hamal and Other Manual Workers (Regulation of Employment and Welfare Act, 1969. The petitioner is dealing with handling of goods and food grains under the public distribution system. The State Government has issued Government Resolution dated 05.09.2005 directing the contractors who are allotted tender work of handling at Government godown shall register themselves as owner with Mathadi Board and employ Hamals registered with Mathadi Board. The Government had issued resolution dated 29.04.2008 permitting Mathadi Hamals working at Government godowns earlier, alone eligible to do work and the payment of wages to be deposited with Mathadi Board in the background of the dispute arose between Mathadi Hamals registered with Mathadi Board and the Hamals engaged by the Contractors.4. Afterwards, new policy was framed by the Government for handling of goods at Government godowns in the year 2014 for a period of three years from 2014 to 2017. On 06.09.2016, the State Government issued Government Resolution directing to include Varai (tip) in wages and to form district level committees to resolve the obstructions caused in handling works. On 30.01.2017, the State Government issued Circular that levy amount payable to the Mathadi Hamals in addition wages should be directly paid by the Collector office to the Mathadi Board.5. The grievance was raised before the Hon'ble Minister of Food and Civil Supplies that allotment of contract to Hamal Contractor Societies would burden public exchequer. Even then, the Government has issued Resolution dated 08.05.2018 considering Hamal Contractors Societies alone to be eligible for the tender contract as per Clauses 8 and 9.1 which are under challenge.6. It is the stand of the petitioner that private contractors are permitted to participate in the open tender process of handling goods at MSWC, CWC and FCI godowns but the Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018 restricts open and fair competition for allotment of handling work in each district which is discriminatory. It restricts fair competition, it may amount to burden the public exchequer. The petitioner has made representation to the State Government and brought to the notice of the Government as to how the Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018 has incurred burden on public exchequer in view of clauses Nos.8 and 9.1. According to the petitioner, Clauses 8 and 9.1 of Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018 are arbitrary, discriminatory and restricting fair competition between the similarly situated persons. As such, those clauses need to be struck down. The petitioner has prayed to permit him to participate in open tender process.Stand of the State Government:7. The District supply Officer, Aurangabad has filed reply affidavit on behalf of the State and denied the challenge to Clauses 8 and 9.1 of the Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018. It is the stand of the State Government that by issuing Government Resolution dated 20.04.2017, the Government has laid down various guidelines for appointing agencies for transportation of food grains and essential commodities under the public distribution system. It is contended by the State Government that the State has received various complaints in respect of non payment of wages according to the labour laws and non deposit of levy with the Mathadi Board as required vide Government Resolution dated 12.09.2014. To ensure uniformity in the payment as per labour rates as sanctioned and approved by the Mathadi Board and for prompt payment of minimum rates in addition to levy rates and additional labour rates on the basis inflation index, the Government has prescribed qualification for bidding contracts of handling of food grains.8. It is the duty of the State Government to see welfare of the Hamals who are engaged in handling goods. It is with an intention of welfare of registered Hamals Cooperative Societies which actually financed and run by Hamals, such clause has been introduced to see prompt payment of minimum wages as approved by the Mathadi Board. The state has also considered the aspect that the societies registered by unemployed should get work for their members and unemployed Hamals.9. The petitioner is primarily a transport contractor and has every right to bid for contract of transportation of food grains for which wok, registered Hamals societies and unemployed persons are not eligible. According to the State, the Clauses under challenge cannot be said to be arbitrary and discriminatory.10. We have heard Mr. R.N.Dhorde, learned Senior Advocate for the petitioner, Mr. S.G. Karlekar, learned A.G.P. For the respondent 1 to 4 and Mr.P.P. Mandlik, the learned counsel for respondent No.5.11. We have gone through the Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018, more particularly clauses 8 and 9.1 which are under challenge. We have also perused the various Government resolutions issued by the Food & Civil Supply department in respect of handling of goods at Government godowns at district place.12. Before entering into arena of dispute, it would be necessary to refer to Clauses 8 and 9.1 of the Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018, which read thus:“LANGUAGE”Submissions of learned Senior Advocate for the petitioner13. Mr. Dhorde, the learned Senior Advocate vehemently submitted that Clauses 8 and 9.1 of the Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018 have restricted fair competition amongst bidders. If the said clauses are deleted, there would be fair competition and it may save the money of public exchequer. Due to the said clauses, competition for bidding has become very much narrow. The contractors like the petitioner cannot participate in open tender process in view of the said clauses which had put restrictions. The petitioner, though has vast experience in the field of public distribution system regarding transportation of food grains from FCI godowns to fair price shops, he cannot participate in the tender process in view of the said clauses. Mr. Dhorde, the learned Senior Advocate submitted that the Finance Department has specifically indicated in the notings that if same hamal societies are allowed to participate in the tender process for years together at the government godowns may reduce competition and it may affect the State Government. The rates quoted by Hamal contractors are high and therefore, more persons should be allowed to participate in the tender process. The State Government has again framed a new policy vide Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018. Inspite of notings of the Finance Department, due to political pressure of hamal contractors societies lobby, Clauses 8 and 9.1 are kept in the new policy to restrict the competition for the supervision of handling of goods at Government godowns.14. Mr. Dhorde, the learned Senior Advocate submitted that the State Government is aware that work of handling of goods is to be carried out by a registered Mathadi Hamal working at government godown for last so many years alone and cannot be changed at any cost even if the contractors are changed. The State Government came up with a new policy for transportation and handling by issuing Government Resolution dated 01.11.2018 wherein the State Government has decided that since the work is to be done by the Hamals at the Government godowns then there will be no difficulty in carrying out the work of handling and transporting through work contractor in each district instead of issuing separate tender and multiply the procedure for allotment of work.15. According to Mr.Dhorde,the learned senior advocate, clauses 8 and 9.1 of Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018 are arbitrary and discriminatory. The same has restricted fair competition between the similarly situated persons. The above said clauses need to be struck down. To buttress his argument, Mr. Dhorde, the learned senior advocate has placed reliance on the decision in case of Natural Resources Allocation, In RE, Special Reference No.1 of 2012, reported in (2012)10 Supreme Court Cases 1.Submissions of the A.G.P.16. Per contra, Mr. S.G. Karlekar, learned Advocate for respondent Nos. 1 to 4/State submitted that background for issuing new Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018 needs to be considered. He submitted that the State has received various complaints that Hamals are not getting wages as per labour laws. There was delay in payment of their wages. There was no deposit of levy with the Mathadi Board as required under Government resolution dated 12.09.2014. The learned A.G.P. submitted that it is the duty of the State Government to see welfare of the Labours/ Hamals who are engaged in handling of goods at various Government godowns at District places. The Government felt that it is necessary to have uniform policy in order to protect the interest of the labour/Mathadi Kamgar. By way of policy decision, the Government has introduced Resolution dated 08.05.2018 for the welfare of Hamals who actually finance and run such Hamal cooperative societies and as such, the Hamals are promptly paid minimum wages as approved by the Mathadi Board in addition to levy rates and additional labour rates on the basis of inflation index. The Societies are registered with an object to provide work to an unemployed who are members of such registered societies. Clauses 8 and 9.1 of Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018 cannot be said to be arbitrary, much less discriminatory in the above background. It is a policy decision taken by the State Government taking into consideration the welfare of the Hamals registered with Mathadi Board.17. Mr. Mandlik, the learned counsel for respondent No.5 supported the argument advanced by learned A.G.P. He submitted that the Government has taken policy decision and accordingly the Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018 came to be issued. The clauses under challenge are in consonance with the welfare of the labour policy.18. We have considered the arguments advanced by Mr. R. N.Dhorde, learned Senior Advocate for the petitioner, Mr. S.G. Karlekar, learned A.G.P. for the respondent 1 to 4 and Mr. P.P. Mandlik, the learned counsel for respondent No.5.19. Article 39 of the Constitution of India includes protection of health and strength of workers and just and humane condition of work. It is the duty of the State that citizen, men and women equally have right to adequate means of livelihood. Article 38 of the constitution provides that the State to secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people. Equality before law has many facets and is the dynamic concept. It is duty of the State Government to empower weaker sections of the society like Hamal/ Mathadi kamgars by way of policy decision. The doctrine of equal pay for equal work also is in tune with Article 39.20. In the background of the above said provisions of the Constitution, we need to consider Clauses 8 and 9.1 of the Government Resolution dated 08.05.2108. Whether those clauses are arbitrary and discriminatory ? In that context, we have studied Government resolutions dated 05.09.2005, 29.04.2018, 12.09.2014, 06.09.2016, 30.01.2017, 01.11.2018 and corrigendum dated 01.10.2018 whereby the State Government has cancelled the Government resolution dated 01.11.2018.21. The main attack of the petitioner is that above said clauses 8 and 9.1 of the Government Resolution have restricted the fair competition which ultimately resulted in increasing burden on public exchequer. On studying the impugned clauses, we noticed that respondent no.1 has taken a policy decision, thereby directed the respondent authority to repudiate all the tenders in respect of handling of the food grains in the Government godowns initiated as per the the GR dated 12.09.2014 and to initiate the tender process for allotment of the work of handling of food grains in the Government Godowns afresh as per the directives issued vide G.R. dated 08.05.2018. Clause 8.1 of the said G.R. provides that the tenders may be invited from the registered Hamal Cooperative Societies who are registered with the Mathadi Board. The said policy decision seems to have been taken by the State with a view that the Cooperative Societies financed by Mathadi Hamals which works for the welfare of Mathadi Hamals should be given priority so that they can engage Hamals and labourers registered with the Mathadi Board. In turn, they shall be paid minimum rates approved by the Mathadi Board in addition to levy rates and additional labour rates on the basis of inflation index.22. Further it appears from the reply affidavit filed by the State that the Government has received so many complaints regarding non payment of wages to Hamals and delay in deposit of levy charges and that interest of Mathadi Kamgars is flouted by the contractors. In that background, the State seems to have taken a policy decision with an intention to maintain uniformity in the payment of labours/Mathadi Hamals approved and sanctioned by the Mathadi Board. As a result of the policy decision, the impugned clauses seem to have been included in the Government Resolution dated 08.05.2019 to invite tenders from the registered Hamals cooperative societies to perform the work of loading and unloading of food grains at the Government godowns under the public distribution system. The Government seems to have taken policy decision for the welfare of Mathadi workers/Hamals. It is the primary duty of the State to see welfare of labourers and they should get prompt wages for their work. In the Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018, the State has given reason in the introductory part. In that background, such policy decision has been taken in order to protect the interest of the Mathadi workers/ Hamals.23. It is further noticed by us that the petitioner is a Transport Contractor duly registered with the Mathadi Board. Restriction imposed on bidding is for the purpose of handling of food grains whereby the Mathadi Hamals societies which are actually financed and administrated by the Hamals are permitted to bid for contract of handling of food grains at Government godowns. In case of failure of Hamals Cooperative Societies to participate in the bid process then registered unemployed Seva Cooperative Societies are also permitted to bid and participate for the tender process for handling of food grains. Here is a question of welfare of Mathadi Kamgars and prompt payment of their wages. Accordingly the State Government seems to have taken decision. Even though competition seems to have been reduced to some extent, it cannot be said to be violative of Article 14 and 19 of Constitution of India as contended by the petitioner. It is the duty of the Sate Government to see welfare of the Mathadi Kamgars and accordingly the State has taken policy decision in a broader perspective to strengthen the Mathadi Kamgar Societies and their members to get employm
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ent and prompt wages.24. On perusal of the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in case of Natural Resources Allocation, In RE, Special Reference No.1 of 2012, reported in (2012) 10 Supreme Court Cases 1, relied upon by Mr. Dhorde, it is noticed by us that it was Presidential Reference in the background of decision of the Supreme Court in case of Centre for Public Interest Litigation (2012) 3 SCC 1 (2G Spectrum case), wherein the Court had found irregularities in the allocation of 2G radio spectrum, and directed the cancellation of licences of several telecom service providers and a re-auction of the misallocated spectrum. It was a case of auction of natural resources. The citation relied upon by the learned senior Advocate does not render any help to the petitioner.25. The Government has the authority and power to frame the policies and also to change the policies. The power of Government to frame a policy to implement it and amplitude of manner in which it is to be framed and implemented is wide. The scope of judicial review in matters of policy is limited and minimal.26. We do not see the policy decision taken by the State Government is violative of Article 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India. Clauses 8 and 9.1 of the Government resolution dated 08.05.2018 cannot be said to be arbitrary and discriminatory in the background of welfare of Mathadi kamgars. We do not see any merit in the challenge of the clauses 8 and 9.1 of the Government Resolution dated 08.05.2018. The challenge must fail.27. Having regard to the above reason and discussion, we arrive at conclusion that there is no merit in the petition.28. Writ petition stands dismissed.29. Rule is discharged accordingly. No costs.