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‘Seeking to Blow Hot And Cold’: Bombay HC Dismisses Plea against Corporation Using EVs for Waste Collection

A division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Abhay Ahuja has dismissed a writ petition challenging the decision of Ambernath municipal corporation which issued e-tender for the collection and transportation of solid waste only through electric vehicles.

The municipal council had engaged the petitioner in 2016 for a period of five years, through a work order for the collection and transportation of municipal solid waste. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the election to the general body of the council could not be conducted and an administrator came to be appointed. The administrator had granted three extensions to the petitioner beyond the period of five years and the third extension was granted for a period between October 1 and December 31, 2022, or until a new quotation for solid waste collection was received.

On October 27, 2022, the administrator issued an e-tender wherein one of the clauses said that the collection and transportation of solid waste can only be done through an e-vehicle. The petitioner challenged the e-tender on the ground that the administrator has no authority to take a policy decision and proceed with the appointment of a new contractor for the collection and transportation of solid waste. Further, it was argued that the provisions for 100 e-vehicles for door-to-door collection and transportation of municipal solid waste are not immediately available and, therefore, such terms of the tender notice would render the entire process unworkable.

The court in its order noted that as per section 316 of the Act of 1965 when an administrator is appointed, he steps into the shoes of the municipal council. Further, the administrator is empowered by law to discharge all the duties and functions that the municipal council could have discharged in the ordinary course of business.

The court noted that the petitioner was given a third extension on the condition that it would continue till a fresh quotation is received. The court said, “Having accepted such condition imposed by the Administrator, it is clear that the petitioner is seeking to blow hot and cold at the same time. We are, therefore, unable to accept the challenge of the petitioner to the Administrator having issued the impugned e-tender notice.”

The division bench further said that for procuring e-vehicles six months’ time was given from the date of the work order.

The bench said, “In the present times of advancement of science and technology, when a shift towards e-Vehicles is discernible, it would be inappropriate to accept a challenge of the present nature. In fact, we ought to laud the attempt of the Administrator to ensure that for the purpose of solid waste collection from door to door and transportation to the dumping ground, use of e-vehicles is being encouraged.”

The HC also noted that it is not the court’s function to sit in the appeal of administrative decisions. The order reads, “Before parting, we need to restate that it is not the function of the Court to sit in appeal over administrative decisions unless the decision is so outrageous that the same shocks the conscience of the Court. The Administrator is best suited to decide what would secure the interest of the Council best in relation to solid waste collection and transportation.”

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