Stop harassing people and have a practical sand policy, says Court
Bengaluru: The High Court (HC) of Karnataka yesterday asked the State Government why it could not open sand depots and sell sand to the public, on the lines of Public Distribution System (PDS) and Indira Canteen, if it wanted to check the price of sand in the open market.
A Division Bench, comprising acting Chief Justice H.G. Ramesh and Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar, made oral observations in this regard while pointing out that the Court was witnessing more litigations owing to the “arbitrary” sand extraction policy of the State Government. The Government has been rejecting the highest bids to purchase sand mining blocks through e-auction citing various reasons, including controlling the price of sand in the open market in public interest.
The Bench observed that if the Government intended to control the price of the sand in the open market, it had to either prescribe a maximum bid amount in e-auction, so that bidders do not offer a higher price, or should itself open sand depots and sell sand to the public, on the lines of the PDS or Indira Canteen systems.
“People would happily buy sand easily as they buy items in Fair Price Shops and Indira Canteens, and avoid private people from making profit,” the Bench observed after summoning the Secretary of the Commerce and Industries Department to point out the flaw in the policy that has been leading to unnecessary litigations. “Have you come across any such policy anywhere in the country wherein the highest open bid is rejected in such a way? Is there any rationale behind it? We feel this is wholly arbitrary. Stop harassing people and have a practical policy,” the Bench said.
The Court was hearing a petition filed by a person named Vanajakshi, who has questioned the authorities’ rejection of her bid to purchase sand from a mining area in Hoovinahadagali of Ballari district though she was the highest bidder to purchase the sand block.