1998(3) ALL MR 165
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY (AURANGABAD BENCH)
A.P. SHAH AND B.H. MARLAPALLE, JJ.
Sudhir Tukaram Sathe Vs. Union Of India & Four Ors.
Writ Petition No. 2534 of 1996
17th April, 1997
Petitioner Counsel: Shri. V.D. HONE
Respondent Counsel: Shri. H.M. KARWA, Shri. V.G. GANGAPURWALA, Shri. S.P. DESHMUKH
Constitution of India, Art. 14 - Advertisement for granting petrol retail outlet - Outlet reserved for defence category - Petitioner belonging to said category filing application - Required documents also annexed with application - Petitioner not called for interview and outlet granted to others - Held that application of petitioner was wrongly rejected resulting in discrimination violative of Art. 14 - Direction issued to authorities to interview petitioner. (Para 6, 7, 9)
MARLAPALLE, J.:- Heard Shri V.D. Hon, learned counsel for the petitioner, Shri H.M. Karwa, Standing Counsel for Union of India absent, Shri V.G. Gangapurwala, learned counsel for respondents nos. 3 & 4, and Shri S.P. Deshmukh, learned counsel for respondent no.5.
Respondent no.3 - Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. published an advertisement in Daily 'Lokmat' on 18-8-1995 for award of retail outlet at Chashnali, Dist. Ahmednagar. The said outlet was reserved for the defence category and other terms and conditions were set out for being eligible to apply for the said retail outlet. One of the conditions was that the annual income of the applicant during the preceding year should not be more than Rs. 50,000/- and that he should have been a resident at least for five years of any District in Maharashtra, however, other things being equal, preference was to be given to an applicant from Ahmednagar district. The petitioner being ex-Defence Personnel and had suffered permanent disability in the course of his duties, submitted his application in response to the said advertisement, alongwith the copies of all the necessary documents as prescribed in the application. Copy of his application No. 5364 has been annexed to the petition along with the testimonials he had forwarded to the respondent no.3. It appears that all his papers received by respondent no. 3 were then forwarded to the respondent no.2 which is a board appointed by the Government of India through the Ministry of Petroleum.
4. It is the allegation of the petitioner that the last date for submission of the application was 18-9-1995 and though he had submitted his application with all the requisite documents, he did not receive an interview call. He further states that he came to know that the respondent no.2 has selected the respondent no.5 for award of retail outlet of respondent no.3 - Company at Chashnali Dist, Ahmednagar. The only grievance which the petitioner has pressed before this Court is regarding the failure on the part of the respondent no.2 in calling him for interview inspite of the fact that he had submitted the application in the prescribed form with all the necessary documents and the application was submitted in time as well as in full compliance of the requirements set out therein.
5. On receiving the notice from this Court, the respondent no.5 has appeared and filed her affidavit-in-reply. She states that she had received interview call dated 22-1-1996 and she was interviewed along with others on 9-2-1996. She claims that she had been issued the letter of intent much before the petitioner had approached this Court. The respondent no.2 has appeared before us and submitted original files relating to the award of retail outlet at Chashnali Dist. Ahmednagar. It is the contention of the respondent no.2 that the petitioner was not called for interview solely on the ground that his application was incomplete inasmuch as the income declaration annexed with the application of the petitioner was for the year 1993-94 instead of 1994-95 and the affidavit on relationship clause was also not proper and due to these infirmities, the application of the petitioner was rejected. Consequent upon which, he was not called for interview, It is also stated that the declaration of annual income and the income certificate issued by the Tahsildar are contrary to each other.
6. On perusal of the original papers as well as the papers annexed to the petition, it is clear that the original declaration of annual income submitted by the petitioner along with his application form has been interpolated inasmuch as the year 1993-94 has been written in different ink and the said writing is not in the copy attached by the petitioner with his petition though both the documents are one and the same. The said document has been attested by the Notary admittedly on 16-9-1995. The income certificate issued by the Tahsildar was sent by the petitioner only by way of an abundant precaution and as per the requirement of the respondent no.3, such an income certificate is required to be issued only if the applicant is an agriculturist which is not the case in respect of the petitioner. The declaration of annual income duly attested by Notary on 16-9-1995 and the interpolation made in the said declaration that it is for the year 1993-94 is not attributable to the petitioner at all. In the affidavit submitted by him along with the application form, the petitioner has stated in paragraph no.2 as under :
"That neither myself nor any of my close relatives (including step relations) viz. spouse/father/son/daughter/sister/brother/son-in-law/parents-in-law hold dealership/distributorship/agency of any Oil Company for any Petroleum Products in India."
On perusal of the above statement made on oath, the contentions of the respondent no.2 that the affidavit on relationship clause was nor proper, cannot be accepted.
7. For the reasons stated hereinabove, and on perusal of the original documents, we are of the view that the application of the petitioner has been wrongly rejected and he has been denied the opportunity of being interviewed so as to compete along with other applications. We hold that the petitioner has been discriminated by wrong rejection of his application by respondent no.2. The said action of respondent no.2 is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India and hence the petitioner deserves to be called for interview and his application is required to be considered on merit.
8. By order dated 3-6-1996, this Court had directed injunction against respondent no.5 from taking any further steps in respect of erection of Petroleum Pump at Chashnali in Kopergaon Tahsil, Dist. Ahmednagar, and stayed the operation and/or implementation of the order of Indian Oil Corporation granting retail outlet dealership at Chashnali in favour of respondent no.5.
9. We, therefore, quash and set aside the letter of intent granted in favour of respondent no.5 and direct the respondents nos. 2 & 3 to take steps to interview the petitioner by treating his application as complete and valid. The said interview shall be conducted within a period of four months from today and a final decision based on merit from amongst all the applicants including the respondent no.5 shall be taken by respondent no.2 within a period of 15 days thereafter. Petition stands allowed in terms of prayer clause (B) and (C) and Rule is made absolute accordingly with no order as to costs.