Mere conjecture by authorities cannot be a conclusive proof against the petitioners

Uttaranchal High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sudhanshu Dhulia, J. addressed 15 writ petitions seeking to direct the state government to complete its inquiry within a specified date in order to provide relief to the petitioners.

There was an e-auction for allotment of mining lots for river bed material pertaining to different plots and different river beds in the State of Uttarakhand which was consequently cancelled by the state government on a complaint thereby suspecting the petitioners of forming a ‘cartel’ in order to keep the bid as low as possible. Even the earnest money was withheld along with restricting the petitioners to participate in any mining process in the state.

Here the contention of the petitioners was that firstly they cannot be framed on mere conjectures and secondly prices have gone down due to restrictions imposed by the National Green Tribunal and the limited supply of riverbed material.

Here the court resorted to considering the conclusiveness of preliminary inquiry in order to establish the intention of the petitioners. Therefore it stated that it was not sufficient to prove that petitioners formed a cartel. It of the view that as this procedure was adopted to keep transparency in the system the state must not defeat that process.

Hence the Court directed the cyber crime cell to complete its inquiry within a specified time and it made it clear that in case the state government fails to complete its inquiry within that time the petitioners would be at liberty to seek refund of the amount deposited by them as the earnest money, which shall then be refunded. [Balaji Constructions v. State of Uttarakhand,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 729, order dated 06-08-2018]

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