Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
A judgment, which fails to clear doubts, is a bad judgment. Instead of helping people in getting judicially informed, it spreads judicial confusion.
Unfortunately the February 4, 2008 judgment of the Supreme Court in Civil appeal No. 653 of 2006 between State of Orissa & Anr (petitioner) and M/s. Tata Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. & Ors (Respondent) is such a judgment.
Para 9 of the judgment is an indicator. I quote it below:
“9. At this juncture, it would be relevant to quote the Recommendations of the Technical Committee constituted for evaluation of the offers received for development of
Tangarpada Chromite Deposit in Joint Venture, which reads as follows:
“RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE CONSTITUTED FOR EVALUATING THE OFFERS RECEIVED FOR DEVELOPMENT OF TANGARPADA CHROMITE DEPOSIT IN JOINT VENTURE
Offers for development of Tangarpada Chromite Deposit in Joint Venture were received from four parties namely:
1. Tata Iron and Steel Co. Ltd.;
2. Jindal Strips Limited;
3. Jindal Steel and Power Ltd.; and
4. VISA Industries Limited
Before opening of the sealed offers, Jindal Steel and Power (one of the offer) withdrew its offer. The technical bid of the other three parties were opened by the committee in presence of the respective parties on 9th December, 2002. Each party presented their
case before the Technical Committee on the same day.”
Where are the recommendations?
The recommendations that formed the crux of the issue before the High Court should have been dealt with on the body of the Supreme Court judgment so that the public could have been judicially informed about why in striking down the alleged recommendation the High Court had erred.And, the doubt could have been cleared. But it has not happened.
Even though constitutionally the Supreme Court is the final authority in legal interpretation, it is also a fact that verdicts of the same court are reviewed and reversed in later judgments of the same court. Even orders of the constitution bench comprising numbers of judges are reviewed and improved upon by constitution benches comprising more numbers of judges at a later stage.
So it is not a fact that every judgment of the Supreme Court is judicially unreviewable.
As regards the issue of favoritism, the judgment is limited to a single para i.e. para 10.
I quote it below:
“10. It may be stated here that certain conclusions of the High Court are clearly indefensible. The observations relating to favoritism, so far as Jindal is concerned, are clearly without any foundation”.
It is not an ordinary statement. It is quashing of the judicial observations of a High Court. So the Supreme Court should not have ended its observation so abruptly with such scant expression. it would have been proper if on the body of this judgment it could have been elaborated as to why the judicial observation of the High Court has been thus nullified by the Apex Court.
So, notwithstanding the Supreme Court judgment, doubt in public mind would persist. But who is going to ask the Supreme Court to review its judgment?
Therefore, this much can be said now that Navin Patnaik government stripped layer by layer by Orissa High Court as reported in orissamatters. com in 2004 has been given a chance by the Supreme Court in 2008 to dress up again.
Whether or not the Government has the ability to dress up properly may be known by watching its future actions.