Decided on March 31,2017



SWAPNA JOSHI, J. - (1.) By this petition, the petitioner seeks a direction that the letter dated 26.04.2011 issued by Mr. C.M.Shukla, G.M. (M.M.) WCL HQ. directing to declare that the withholding of payment of admitted dues of the petitioner stands revoked and further to direct the respondent no.1 to withdraw the said letter dated 26.04.2011 and to make the payment of Rs.1,46,66,383.33 to the petitioner with interest. The petitioner further prays to quash and set aside the report, dated 10.04.2015, of the Chief Vigilance Officer, Coal India Limited.
(2.) The petitioner is a Private Limited Company duly registered under the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956. The petitioner is an authorised Distributor of respondent no.3-Company. Pursuant to the offer made by respondent no.3-SKF India Limited, Bombay and offer made by Industrial Bearing Services, the respondent no.1 had entered into a rate contract dated 11.12.1995 for supply of SKF imported bearings for a period of two years on the terms and conditions stated in the rate contract. It was agreed that the respondent no.1 shall place the order against the said rate contract and the petitioner and shall execute the same. It was further agreed that the respondent no.1 shall make payment against the bills that would be raised for the aforesaid supplies to the petitioner directly. Initially, rate contract was for a period of two years with effect from 11.12.1995 till 31.12.1997. The duration of the said rate contract was extended by respondent no.1 from time to time and the last extension was up to 31.12.2011. As per the rate contract, the petitioner has supplied imported bearings as per the orders placed by respondent no.1 from time to time and, accordingly, respondent no.1 has made payment to the petitioner in respect of the supplies made by the petitioner to the respondent no.1. According to the petitioner from 1995 till 2010 there was no dispute between the parties. However one Mr. C.M.Shukla, then G.M. (MM) WCL Headquarters, by letter dated 26.04.2011 addressed to Chief General Manager/GMs of various areas under the respondent no.1, directed to withhold payment against the said rate contract to the petitioner. By letter dated 27.04.2011, Mr. Shukla, suspended the aforesaid rate contract with immediate effect. There was a lot of correspondence between the parties. The petitioner addressed various letters to the respondent no.1 for the alleged payment.
(3.) The petitioner, again, addressed a letter dated 10.09.2011 to Shri G.M. (MM) WCL, Nagpur, to withdraw the letter dated 26.04.2011 whereby payment of bills of goods/products supplied by petitioner was withheld and also to accept the supplies against the orders placed on the petitioner which were pending. Since the petitioner did not get any response to the letter dated 10.09.2011, the petitioner dashed off a letter dated 04.11.2011 to the higher authority i.e. Chairman and Manging Director, WCL, Nagpur, making similar request. The petitioner did not get a response to the said letter from respondent no.1. In this situation, the petitioner was constrained to lodge the complaint with the Chief Vigilance Officer, WCL,Nagpur vide letter dated 30.12.2011 against the action of Mr. Shukla, in directing withholding payment due to the petitioner, by letter dated 26.04.2011. The Chief Vigilance Officer conducted detailed investigation and submitted vigilance report to the Central Vigilance Commission, New Delhi. The Chief Vigilance Officer WCL, Nagpur found that the issuance of letter dated 26.04.2011 withholding of payment pursuant thereto, was without authority of law. The payment due to the petitioner was not released and continued to be withheld. During the pendency of the petition, there was some correspondence between the petitioner and respondent no.1. The respondent no.1 withdrew the impugned communication dated 26.04.2011 and accepted to release the payment after withdrawal of the instant petition vide communication/letter dated 12.12.2013, by respondent no.1. In view thereof, the petitioner withdrew the instant petition with liberty to revive the petition in case the WCL does not make payment of withheld amount. Thereafter, the petitioner received the amount of Rs.1,00,719.11 out of the total outstanding amount of Rs.1,46,66,383.33, on 30.12.2013. The petitioner was told that respondent no.1 had issued fresh instructions to withhold the payment. Again, there was a plethora of correspondence between the petitioner and the respondent no.1. Therefore, the petitioner was constrained to move Misc. Application No.33/2015 for restoration/revival of Writ Petition No.2443/2013. At the time of hearing of the said MCA, statement was made on behalf of respondent no.1 that letter dated 12.12.2013 has been withdrawn. After hearing both sides, this Court by order dated 02.02.2015 allowed M.C.A. No.33/2015 and recalled its order dated 13.12.2013. Thus, according to petitioner, the impugned action on the part of respondent no.1 is unreasonable, irrational, unjust,unfair, arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.;

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