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Satya Constructions, Represented by its Proprietor, R. Satheesh, Bengaluru v/s State of Karnataka, Department Of Urban Development, Represented by its Principal Secretary, Bengaluru & Others

    Writ Petition Nos. 6248, 6076, 6199 of 2022 (LB-BMP)

    Decided On, 20 April 2022

    At, High Court of Karnataka

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE KRISHNA S. DIXIT

    For the Petitioner: D. Prashanth Kumar, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1, K.R. Nithyananda, AGA, R2 & R3, V. Sreenidhi, Advocate.



Judgment Text

(Prayer: This Writ petition is filed Under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying to call for records; direct the R-2 to consider the representations dtd. 08.02.2022 (Annx-K1 And K2) submitted by the Petitioner and further direct the R-2 and 3 to release and make payment of Total Amount of Rs. 7,84,10,000/- (Inr Seven Crore Eighty-Four Lakhs Ten Thousand Only) in favour of terms of the contract certificate dtd. 20.04.2021 (Annx-J-1 and J-2) in W.P.No.6076 of 2022:

This Writ Petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying to call for records; directing the R2 to consider the representation dated 09.02.2022(Annexure-K1 and K2) submitted by the Petitioner and further direct the Respondent Nos.2 and 3 to release and Make Payment of Total Amount of Rs.3,92,36,435/- (Inr Three Crore Ninety Two Lakhs Thirty Six Thousand Four Hundred Thirty Five Only) in favour of the petitioner in terms of the contract certificate dated 16.08.2021 and 12.11.2021(Annexure-J1 and J2).

This Writ Petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying to call for records; directing the R2 to consider the representations darted 09.02.2022 (Annexure-E1, E2, E3, E4) submitted by the Petitioner and further direct the R2 and R3 to release and make payment of Total Amount of Rs.3,84,19,770/- (Inr Three Crore Eighty Four Lakhs Nineteen Thousand Seven Hundred Seventy Seven Only) in terms of the contract certificates dated 13.11.2020, 12.11.2020, 02.03.2021 and 02.03.2021 (Annexure-D1, D2, D3 and D4).)

Common Order

1. All these petitioners are the BBMP contractors. Their common grievance is as to non-settlement of their claim for certain sums of monies payable on account of the works contracts admittedly accomplished by them after a due tender process. Learned counsel for the petitioners vehemently argues that despite issuance of Works Completion Certificates, the respondent-BBMP is withholding the amount due sans any justification and since long. He also complains that the delay in making the payment is for "obvious reasons". However, he does not make those reasons obvious leaving the same to the wild imagination of this court. He also draws attention of the court to a recent unfortunate & alleged incident of suicide of an unpaid contractor and difficulty his surviving family members have been facing. He pleads urgency and seeks expeditious disposal of these cases, that lie in a narrow compass.

2. After service of notice, the respondent-BBMP and its officials have entered appearance through their Panel Counsel. Yesterday, on the assurance of the said counsel of exploring the possibility of granting redressal to the grieving petitioners, these cases involving similar law & facts, came to be posted to this day. Though initially he opposed the Writ Petitions, has now filed Memos all dated 20.4.2022. They are signed by himself and the Addl. Commissioner of Finance (BBMP) namely Mr.Nagaraj Sheregar. They contain an undertaking to settle the claims by making payment to the petitioners after obtaining formal approvals from the concerned, in a time bound way.

3. All these Memos have substantially similar text & intent. It is agreed at the Bar that the undertaking incorporated therein is given not only to the petitioners but also to this court so that breach thereof would constitute contempt of this court, arguably both civil & criminal, of course subject to all just exceptions. Each of the Memos is reproduced below:

(i) THE MEMO IN W.P.NO.6248/2022 READS AS UNDER:

"It is submitted that in the instant case the Petitioner was issued two work orders dated 07.10.2020 by the Executive Engineer, Byatarayanapura Division, BBMP, Bengaluru and completion certificate and contract certificate was also issued. The BBMP does not dispute the above facts. The BBMP is also bound to pay the contract amount. However since the contract is of Government grants, certain administrative approvals needs to be obtain from the Government of Karnataka. Hence the BBMP humbly request this Hon'ble Court to grant 4 weeks time to take necessary approvals from the Government of Karnataka and release the payments to the Petitioner herein.

Humbly submitted in the interest of justice and equity."

(ii) THE MEMO IN W.P.NO.6076/2022 READS AS UNDER:

"It is submitted that in the instant case the Petitioner was issued two work orders dated 06.02.2021 by the Executive Engineer, Yelahanka Division, BBMP, Bengaluru and completion certificate and contract certificate was also issued. The BBMP does not dispute the above facts. The BBMP is also bound to pay the contract amount. However since the contract is of Government grants, certain administrative approvals needs to be obtain from the Government of Karnataka. Hence the BBMP humbly request this Hon'ble Court to grant 4 weeks time to take necessary approvals from the Government of Karnataka and release the payments to the Petitioner herein.

Humbly submitted in the interest of justice and equity."

(iii) THE MEMO IN W.P.NO.6199/2022 READS AS UNDER:

"It is submitted that in the instant case the Petitioner was issued two work orders dated 11.11.2020 by the Executive Engineer, Yelahanka Division, BBMP, Bengaluru and completion certificate and contract certificate was also issued. The BBMP does not dispute the above facts. The BBMP is also bound to pay the contract amount. However since the contract is of Government grants, certain administrative approvals needs to be obtain from the Government of Karnataka. Hence the BBMP humbly request this Hon'ble Court to grant 4 weeks time to take necessary approvals from the Government of Karnataka and release the payments to the Petitioner herein.

Humbly submitted in the interest of justice and equity."

4. Learned counsel for the petitioners having perused the above Memos, broadly agrees with their contents and prays for the disposal of Writ Petitions in terms thereof arguing that the same should be treated as the bargain not only between the petitioners and the respondents but also the court, as well so that their non-compliance would amount to contempt of the court. This is not controverted by the learned counsel appearing for the respondents.

5. This court takes judicial notice of several cases coming before it wherein unpaid contractors who have scrupulously accomplished the works contracts are grieving against their claims being parked in abeyance indefinitely. The State & its instrumentalities like the BBMP have to conduct themselves with due diligence and responsibly consistent with the constitutional expectations. They are not supposed to act as unscrupulous entities of public law. Huge investments are made by the contractors in accomplishing the tender works and at times, with borrowed monies. Despite the contract work having been completed and the Completion Certificates issued, delay being brooked in settling the dues of scrupulous contractors is not a happy thing to happen in a Welfare State. It is not that courts are not aware of what has been happening in the quarters that be. This court very reluctantly refrains itself from assuming 'certain things' with a fond hope that the scrupulous contractors who are not before the Court now but are similarly circumstanced qua the petitioners shall not be driven to avoidable legal battle, that may cost the quarters that be very dearly. More is not nece

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ssary to specify and less is insufficient to leave it unsaid. In the above circumstances, these Petitions are disposed off with a direction to the respondents to keep up the undertaking and settle the claims of the petitioners on warfooting. Delay if brooked shall attract a penal interest of 2% per mensem with retrospective effect from the date on which the claims of the petitioners ought to have been settled, and that the said interest amount after remittance to the petitioners, shall be recovered from the erring officials personally. The respondent- BBMP is directed to file the compliance report to the Registrar General of this Court within one week of the prescribed compliance period, failing which the respondents run the risk of being tried and punished for offence of contempt of this court. Now, no costs.
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