Writ Petition cannot be filed to direct payment of money by enforcement of contractual obligation

Punjab & Haryana High Court: Disposing 125 writ petitions against various Government Departments, regarding the issue of non-payment on the part of State to satisfy its admitted liability arising out of public contracts, K. Kannan, J, directed the State to publish the list of works completed and partially completed for the amounts that have been disclosed in the affidavit of the Secretary to the Government as payable, within 4 weeks from the judgment in the official website of the Finance Department and also in the respective departments from where the amounts are due.

In the present case, the Petitioners, through S.B. Kaushik approached the High Court seeking the writ of mandamus to release the money for the works done, instead of filing a civil suit. They contended that the works have been completed as envisaged, but the payments, as provided by the terms of the contract, have not been made. Hence, the Court, deciding that whether a writ remedy was available for payment for works done as per the terms of a contract, held that a writ petition to direct payment of money by way of enforcement of contractual obligation, whether admitted or not, cannot be filed.

The Court also irked at the clauses mentioned in the tenders and the contracts stating therein that the amount will be paid as and when the government releases the amount and there shall be no liability for payment of any interest. It held that such clauses are grossly unjust and are open to full fledged abuse. It also held that it shall be impermissible for a court to re-write terms of such contracts.

Also, showing concerns over Punjab’s revenue deficit and the due-payment of Rs.587.90 crores, the Courts suggested directions/guidelines to be followed in the future to avoid such liabilities and so that the State’s obligations are duly met. M/s Dharam Pal Contractors v. State of Punjab, 2014 SCC OnLine P&H 19722, Date of decision,05.11.2014

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