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news details
SC stays 'status quo' on plea over Army Hospital Udhampur
1/25/2020 11:06:48 PM
Early Times Report
JAMMU, Jan 25: The Supreme Court has stayed the 'status quo' with regard to a multi-storied command hospital with latest facilities at Udhampur.
"Until further orders, status quo, as it exists today, shall remain stayed," a 3-judge bench of the top court headed by Chief Justice of India said.
The bench also comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant also issued a notice to Union of India on a petition by M/s Vijeta Projects & Industries Limited against the order by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court dismissing plea in which the company had challenged cancellation of its contract by the Chief Engineer, Military Engineering Services (MES) vide its order dated 18.03.2019. The company had challenged it primarily on the ground of arbitrariness.
As per the facts noted by the high court, pursuant to the approval accorded by the Government of India somewhere in November 2000, a Multi-Storied Command Hospital with latest facilities was planned for construction at Udhampur. This was done with a view to provide the most modern facilities in the Northern Command Headquarters at Udhampur, considering the fact that the State was confronted with militancy, leading to casualties, which required immediate and modern medical backup and facilities. Accordingly, the work was planned in two packages. The first package consisted of all Ancillary Buildings and External Services like provision of water supply, electric supply and also provision of a security wall to improve the security of the complex, while the second package consisted of Multi-Storied Command Hospital Building for 650 beds with space for Crisis Expansion for 200 beds.
It also provided for married accommodation for Officers, JCOs/OR & NOS and Single living accommodation for Officers/ Nursing Officers/ JCOs/OR & Trainees. Besides, it provided for unit accommodation for MNS Officers/JCOs Club/FWC & Religions Institute as well as all internal services.
The contract for second package came to be awarded to the M/s Vijeta Projects & Industries Limited and a contract agreement dated 27.01.2011 was executed for an amount of Rs. 185,11,70,691. According to the agreement, the contract had to be completed within a period of 27 months, commencing from 10.02.2011. The project, therefore, had to be completed by 09.05.2013.
According to the petitioner immediately after the sight was handed over, in the month of February, 2011, construction work was initiated at the site. It is alleged that during the course of execution, numerous changes were made in the scope of work as well as in the goods that were required to be used by the petitioner, which severely hindered the pace of execution of the work at site.
On the other hand, the Garrison Engineer denied the petitioner contentions and attributed the delay in the slow progress of work due to poor site management and lack of resources including material, labour, T&B. The petitioner, it said, was also informed that the changes were inevitable due to technical reasons, the requirement at the site and the interest of work to meet the functional requirement of the hospital project and amenities to be provided therein. It was however clarified that the changes were minimum and pertained to change in goods and material quality necessitated on account of upgradation and technology.
After hearing both the sides, the court while dismissing the petition had said: "Since the respondents without doubt would be interested in the early completion of the project, considering its relevance and importance and since the project in question has already taken more than 08 years and is yet far from completion, the step taken by the respondents in terminating the contract in question cannot be said to be in any manner arbitrary, which would warrant the exercise of extraordinary jurisdiction in setting aside the same."
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