B.R. Sarangi, J. -
(1.) The petitioner, who is a transport contractor (Level-II), has filed this writ petition to quash the order no.1830 dated 17.05.2020 passed by the Collector, Sundargarh blacklisting him from participating in all tender process of civil supplies as well as other departments for a period of two years across the State, and consequential order no.1837 dated 17.05.2020 passed by the District Manager, OSCSC Ltd., Sundargarh vide Annexure-6 terminating the agreements, as the same have been passed in violation of principles of natural justice.
(2.) The factual matrix of the case, in hand, is that the petitioner was selected for appointment as transport contractor (Level-II) for Koira, Bonai, Lahunipada and Gurundia blocks in the district of Sundargarh, pursuant to the decision of the District Tender Committee, Sundargarh for the financial year 2017-19, but the District Manageropposite party no.3 restricted execution of agreement till 31.03.2018. Thereafter, the petitioner was called upon to make security deposit and additional security deposit as per the guidelines of the tender as well as to furnish the documents as per claue-11 of the tender paper, as indicated in those letters, which includes the carriage by Road Act, 2007 and the Carriage by Road Rules, 2011 and the license issued under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970. The petitioner, having complied all the requirements, separate agreements were executed by the Corporation in respect of each of the blocks. The term of appointment was extended and separate agreements were executed for the extended period. Such arrangement was made on account of single bid in the fresh tender process requiring de-novo process as well as the time requisite for execution of fresh tender vis- -vis the need of continuous supply of food stock under Public Distribution System. Accordingly, it was decided and communicated to the General Manager (PDS) of the Corporation to extend the terms of the appointment of all the Level-I, Level-II transport contractors till the appointment of new contractors or extend the period, whichever is earlier. The validity of license under OPDS (Control) Order, 2016 and Security deposit for the extended period were directed to be ensured, for the purpose. The term of appointment of the petitioner stood extended up to 20.05.2020 in terms of the letter dated 28.04.2020 of the Managing Director, Odisha Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd.
2.1 During process of execution of the job of loading of the stock of 200 bags of rice and unloading the same at Fair Price Shop, allegation of carriage of the PDS rice in the tipper bearing registration no. OD-14 B 6865 engaged by the petitioner was detected at Khandahar hill top on 27.04.2020 and on that basis, FIR was lodged and the license of the petitioner was suspended by the SubCollector, Bonai, which was communicated to the petitioner by the Marketing Inspector, Lahunipada on 14.05.2020. Following the order of suspension dated 14.05.2020 communicated to the petitioner by the Marketing Inspector, a notice of show cause, vide letter no.2018 dated 15.05.2020, was issued by the Sub- Collector, Bonai as the licensing authority, to show cause regarding diversion of 96 bags of PDS rice to Choda Hatting near Sujit Kar Ration Shop situated at Choda Hatting upper Khadadhar area in the same tipper which was engaged by the petitioner on 26.04.2020 for transportation of PDS rice from Lahunipada Depot to Sashyakela G.P. Such notice of show cause dated 15.05.2020 was received by the petitioner on 18.05.2020. Therefore, in terms of the said letter, the petitioner is required to file reply to the show cause by 21.05.2020. Although the petitioner submitted his reply to the show cause on 20.05.2020, but the Collector, Sundargarh, without considering such reply to the show cause notice, on 17.05.2020 passed order blacklisting the petitioner from participating in all tender process of civil supplies as well as other departments for a period of two years across the State. Consequentially, the District Manager, OSCSC, Ltd., vide order dated 17.05.2020 under Annexure-6, terminated the extended agreements of the petitioner which were valid till 20.05.2020. Hence this application.
(3.) Mr. S.K. Dash, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner argued with vehemence indicating that after suspending the licence of the petitioner on 14.05.2020, a notice of show-cause was issued to the petitioner on 15.05.2020 at Annexure-4 granting three days time to give his reply, failing which his license would be cancelled and his name would be recommended to be blacklisted. The petitioner received the said letter on 18.05.2020, therefore three days time was to expire on 21.05.2020. Even though the petitioner submitted his explanation on 20.05.2020, before receipt of the same, the order impugned was passed on 17.05.2020 vide Annexue-6 blacklisting the petitioner from participating in all tender process of civil supplies as well as other departments for a period of two years across the State, and consequentially the District Manager, Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd, Sundargarh terminated the extended agreements of the petitioner which were valid till 20.05.2020. It is contended that while passing the order impugned, there has been gross violation of principles of natural justice. Therefore, the same should be quashed. To substantiate his contentions, he has relied upon the judgment of the apex Court in Mohinder Singh Gill v. The Chief Election Commissioner, New Delhi, 1978 AIR(SC) 851.;