G.R.Bhattercharjee, J. -
(1.)This is an appeal being FMAT No. 2119/96 directed against the order dated 24.6.1996 passed by B.P. Banerjee, J. in C. O. No. 9850(W) of 1996, by which the learned trial Judge allowed the writ application filed by the respondent herein (G. Mohandas) and cancelled the impugned order dated the 15th April, 1996 by which the auction in question was cancelled and also directed the respondent who are appellants herein to take steps pursuant to the order passed by the Lieutenant Governor, Andaman and Nicobar Islands dated the 12th March, 1996 within a specified period.
(2.)On the 7th February, 1996 the Deputy Commission at Port Blair, Andaman published an auction notice notifying that the right to vend beer, wines and other foreign liquor including Indian made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) in the shops at 13 specified locations at different places as mentioned therein for the period from the 1st April, 1996 to 31st March, 1997 would be sold by auction in one lot as a single auction to be held on 22.2.1996 at the Conference Hall of the Deputy Commissioner's Office at Port Blair. It was mentioned in the said auction notice that the presiding officer reserved the right to accept or reject the highest bid without any reason (annexure-F to the Writ petition). The terms and conditions subject to which bids were invited at the said auction and the license would be granted, were referred to in that notice. It was mentioned in the terms and conditions that a licence would be issued under Rule 9 of the Andaman Excise Rules, 1934 in accordance with the contract of sale. Clause 6(n) of the terms and conditions provides inter alia that the highest bidder shall deposit 50% of the money minus Rs. 75,00,000 of earnest money already deposited by him on the fall of the hammer and the remaining bid money would be deposited by him in five equal monthly instalments on or before 10th of every month starting with April 1996, failing which interest would be charged at the Bank's rate. It was also mentioned therein that acceptance of 50% of the bid money on the date of bid would not however be construed as acceptance of the bid. In clause 6(s) it was mentioned that the successful bidder would enter into an agreement with the licensing authority to bind himself to the terms and conditions of the auction.
(3.)After the publication of the aforesaid auction notice one Krishna Rao filed a writ petition being C.O. No. 12(W) of 1996 against the Deputy Commissioner and Others raising grievance against the single lot of auction for all the 13 shops. By order dated the 19th November, 1996 in the said C.O. No. 12(W) of 1996. N. K. Mitra, J. directed the matter to come up in the list for hearing on 29th February, 1996 and also recorded that in the meantime, if any auction took place that would abide by the result of the writ petition. In that writ petition the respondent herein was also added as a respondent. Auction was held, as per the publication of auction notice, on 22nd February, 1996. The respondent herein offered bid in that auction and he was the highest bidder, his bid amount Rs. 3,09,20,000. As per the terms of the auction notice the respondent herein, who is the writ petitioner in the writ case from which this appeal arises, then deposited a sum of Rs. 1,54,60,000 on the spot. The respondent herein was thereafter awaiting invitation from the Deputy Commissioner for entering into an agreement for vending liquor for the year 1996-1997 as the successful bidder in the auction and for grant of necessary licence for the said year. On 15th March, 1996 he had been to the office of the Deputy Commissioner at Port Blair and there he was arrested by the police pursuant to a warrant of arrest issued by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nagpur in connection with one FIR lodged at Nagpur, being crime No. 53/96, at the instance of the State Excise (Departmental Flying Squad), Nagpur Division, Nagpur. Certain Excise officers from Nagpur were also present when the petitioner was arrested on 15th March, 1996 in the office of the Deputy Commissioner at Port Blair. On that very day he was produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Port Blair who ordered for his production before the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Nagpur and on 16th March, 1996 the writ petitioner was taken away from Port Blair and was ultimately produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nagpur on 18th March, 1996 in connection with the said crime No. 53/96 and he was granted ad-interim bail on condition that he would not leave Nagpur for a period of 10 days and would make himself available at Nagpur for the purpose of interrogation by the Investigating Officer. In course of time the Deputy Commissioner, Andaman issued order No.336 dated the 15th April, 1996 regarding cancellation of the entire auction proceedings held on 22nd February, 1996 and also issued on the same date a public notice being No. 7-143/LS/95/1289 for the information of all concerned that the auction held on 22.2.1996 stood cancelled due to administrative reasons annexure-JJ to the writ petition). Being aggrieved by the said order No. 336 and the said public notice, both dated the 15th April, 1996 the writ petitioner G. Mahandas filed the writ petition, giving rise to the present appeal, for quashing the same and for direction upon the respondent authorities to allow the writ petitioner to run the business of vending IMFL at Andaman and Nicobar Islands on the basis of the auction held on 22nd February, 1996 and to take steps for execution of agreement in terms of the said auction. As already mentioned, the learned trial judge by the impugned order dated the 24th June, 1996 allowed the writ petition quashing the said order and public notice, both dated the 15th March, 1996 and virtually directed the respondents to enter into an agreement with the writ petitioner on the basis of auction held on the 22nd February, 1996. Being aggrieved by the said order the appellants who are the Union of India and the authorities of the Andaman Administration have preferred the present appeal. Apart from the incidents described above a lot of events, having bearing on the question involved in the matter took place in the months of February, and March 1996 and even thereafter which also we will have to take stock of for appreciating the turn of events leading the matter to the position where ultimately it found itself to be.