NEW DELHI: You cannot go on "making fool" of the people and blame them for everything just because you are in power.
This was how the Supreme Court rapped the Haryana government for auctioning 558.53 hectares of land for mining purposes, though the available area was only 141.76 hectares.
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta expressed displeasure over a public notice issued by the state was for auctioning of 558.53 hectares when only 141.76 hectares of land was available.
Observing that the petitioner firm was entitled to a refund of the deposited amount, the top court directed the state to refund the money the firm along with 9 per cent interest per annum from the date of deposit till the date of payment, keeping in view the "vast discrepancy" of area mentioned in the advertisement and area of land made available.
The apex court noted in its order that the firm had refused to take possession of the area sought to be auctioned by the state in Karnal district.
When the counsel for Haryana said it was the duty of the company to ascertain whether the land was actually 558.53 hectares, an annoyed bench said "it is very easy to blame the citizens for everything just because you are in power".
"The public notice was for 558.53 hectares.
How can you give only 141.76 hectres and say it is the duty of applicant (firm) to verify this," the bench told the counsel for the state.
"You cannot go on making fool of the citizens like this.You are the state and it is your responsibility to ensure that what was advertised should be given," the bench said.
During the hearing, the counsel representing the state referred to a clause of terms and conditions of the auction and said it was the duty of the company to ascertain whether the land was actually 558.53 hectares or not.
As per the clause, he said, "all prospective bidders are expected and presumed to have surveyed the areas to make their own assessment for the potential of the areas for which bids are to be offered.
The state government shall not be responsible for any kind of loss to the bidders/ contractors at any point of time (before or after grant of contract).
" "Further the bidders are also expected to have gone through the terms and conditions of auction notice and also the applicable acts and rules for undertaking mining," the clause said.
However, the bench observed that after going through the clause, it was "quite clear" that there was no requirement on the prospective bidder to survey the area for the purpose of measurement.
"The prospective bidder can make an assessment for the potential of the area for which bids are to be offered," it said, while setting aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court's June 2016 order which had dismissed the plea filed by the firm in this regard.
The company had approached the apex court challenging the high court order.