Indore (Madhya Pradesh): A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court presided by Justices AS Bopanna and MM Sundresh on Monday granted interim relief to transporters in a petition, permitting them to continue offering their transportation services to the MP Civil Supplies Corporation (MPCSCL), till further orders, which was filed against the judgment of MP High Court, Jabalpur, which had given a green signal to implementation of Chief Minister Yuva Annadoot Yojna on July 31.
The transporters, who were engaged in the business of supporting food grains and marketing material from warehouses to fair price shops run by the State Governments were granted contracts earlier in 2021, valid upto end of 2024 for transporting the food materials.
However in January, CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan announced ‘CM Yuva Annadoot Yojna’, by virtue of which all the contracts were directed to be suddenly and abruptly terminated for the implementation of the Scheme of handing over all such contracts to domicile residents at the Janpad Panchayat level through a lottery system.
The contractors had approached the High Court in March-April, when Single Benches at Jabalpur, Indore and Gwalior granted interim protection, permitting all the transporters to continue with contracts, without being affected by the implementation of CM Yuva Annadoot Yojna.
However the Division Bench later after hearing dismissed all the 50+ writ petitions on July 31, giving a green signal to the CM Yuva Annadoot Yojna. Against this Judgment, the previously authorized contractors approached the Supreme Court, which heard the SLPs today.
The contractors were represented through Advocates Siddharth R. Gupta and Siddharth Gulati before SC which has permitted them to continue transporting the food material in terms of the previously executed contracts with the MPCSL till further orders whilst show causing the State Government to respond on the validity of the scheme within 6 weeks.
The MPCSL runs around 27,000 pair price shops across the State, for which the food materials are transported from warehouses to the shops. For the same, till January, the State Government allotted tenders through auction, which were allotted to a number of contractors in the past for many years.
In January, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced the ‘CM Yuva Annadoot Yojna’, under which the contractors to be selected through a lottery system, who are unemployed domiciles of concerned Japad Panchayat. A committee of Collectors and representatives of Janpad Panchayat were to carry out the selection for the competent contractor with a minimum rate of Rs 65 per quintal.
Accordingly for the implementation of this scheme, the Collectors were required to cancel all the existing contracts. When Writ Petitions were filed in all the three Benches of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the Single Benches granted interim relief holding the scheme to be a den of corruption and favoritism designed to favor blue eyed persons by then State Governments.
Accordingly on the basis of interim orders passed by Single Benches, the previously approved contractors continued with their contracts. Thereafter all the 50+ Writ Petitions on the application of the State Government were transferred from Indore, Gwalior to Jabalpur to be heard by the Division Bench, which dismissed them through its final Judgement dated July 30.
It was held that the scheme being a policy matter of the State Government, cannot be interfered, more so when it is for a laudable objective.
Against the Judgment of the division Bench of the High Court, the contractors approached the SC, where they pleaded that the Scheme is nothing but to favor blue eyed persons by the State Government, when they are ready to transport at lower rates of Rs. 35 per quintal against Rs. 65 per quintal quoted in the impugned scheme.
Siddharth R Gupta appearing for the contractors argued that the high court ignored the judgements of SC and prior right of the contractors whilst passing the judgment.
Gupta further contended that the manner in which Writ Petitions were called from the Single Bench to be heard by the Division Bench overnight has resulted in denial of their right to appeal, against the Impugned Order which gave a green signal to the State Government to go ahead with the implementation of the scheme.
Gupta further argued that there is no loss to the State exchequer if they are allowed to continue performing their contract, which is in the larger interest of the State.
On the submissions of Gupta, the two Judge Bench of SC sought reply from the State Government within a period of six weeks, whilst also permitting the petitioners to continue transporting food materials in terms of the contract awarded to them earlier.
By virtue of the interim order, now the whole CM Yuva Annadoot Yojna has fallen into trouble, whose validity itself shall now be tested by the SC on the next date of hearing.