Karnataka HC asks one-man panel to submit report on inquiry into allegations against government contractors in 45 days

The state government had constituted the one-man commission on 25 August and transferred the inquiry to it.


Published Dec 14, 2023 | 12:15 PMUpdatedDec 14, 2023 | 12:19 PM

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The High Court of Karnataka, on Wednesday, 13 December, directed the one-man inquiry commission of former high court judge Justice HN Nagamohan Das to submit a report on the inquiry into allegations against government contractors within 45 days in a sealed envelope.

A Special Investigation Cell and subsequently the one-man commission was constituted by the government to investigate the contracts that were handed over to the respective contractors for all the works of various departments, including the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for the years 2019-20 to 2022-23.

The constitution of a Special Investigation Cell on 5 August 2023 for the purpose of investigating and inquiring about the works was challenged by Nikshep Infra Projects and 44 other contractors.

Bills not paid

The contractors alleged that they were not being paid the bills because of the investigation. The government had, however, constituted the one-man commission on 25 August and transferred the inquiry to it.

Justice M Nagaprasanna who heard the petition said that as the inquiry was now pending before the commission, the petition filed by the contractors had to be kept pending “as the merger of the findings of the SIT has taken place to be considered before the commission.” It therefore directed the Commission to complete the enquiry within 45 days.

He added: “Therefore, an outer limit of 45 days is granted for the commission to consider all the respective documents that would be placed by all the stakeholders and the commission.”

The commission shall afford an opportunity of hearing to all the stakeholders and on consideration of the documents and the submissions made if any before the commission, the commission shall frame its appropriate report in accordance with law.

“The said report shall be placed before this Court on completion of 45 days, in a sealed cover,” the court said.

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The government’s submission recorded

The high court also recorded the government’s submission that it would pay the contractors.

The court said, “Learned Advocate General would submit that 75 percent of the amount/claim of the contractors, who have no allegation of irregularities against them would be disbursed on seniority basis seniority in the completion of work and claim.”

“In so far as the contractors against whom alleged irregularities subsists, would be paid only 50 percent of the amount in claim by the contractors. He would submit that these are the Government Orders passed by the State and they would abide by them during the pendency of these proceedings or the pendency of the proceedings before the Commission,” the court added.

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