Pending bill payments: Don’t drive contractors to suicide, Karnataka HC tells govt

09:31 AM Nov 30, 2023 | PTI |

Hearing a contempt of court petition on pending bills not being paid, the High Court of Karnataka observed that, according to the government’s own records, two contractors have committed suicide and this cannot go on.


“Your records say, it is on record, that two of the contractors have committed suicide. It is on record; your record. Look into that. Don’t drive the contractors to the corner,” the HC said.

The division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit were hearing a contempt petition filed by M/s Nikshep Infra Projects against the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for not following an earlier order of the court to release payment for pending bills on works executed by the company.

In an earlier hearing, the BBMP had submitted that it was disbursing the due amount to various contractors as per ”seniority” of the bills submitted.

The HC, citing its earlier interim order of October 30, 2023, said, “We are unable to understand this concept of BBMP for payment of bills,” referring to the inordinate delay in payments for completed works. The court further said, ”In any welfare state, this cannot be a concept when there is no dispute with regard to the fact that a public body floated tender for certain work, successful bidder completes the work by following all the conditions of the work order and public body also admits that the work is duly completed but, still the successful bidder or the contractor is required to wait for the amount due and payable to him for an unreasonable time or has to run from pillar to post for his payment and ultimately.” The HC on Wednesday noted that there was no dispute about the contract.


”He was a successful bidder, completed the work and there was nothing on record to say that he had left the work midway and you had to call for another agency to complete the work. There is nothing of that sort. The case is very simple. After completing the work and considerable time, he approaches this court. You can’t say he has to wait,” the court said.

“Is it your case that you don’t have money? Please answer. Why seniority?” the court questioned the BBMP counsel.

When the counsel cited some instances of fake bills, the HC said it was not because of the contractors.

”If you are really starting a clean-up operation, start it from your house. Let us know if any action is initiated against your officers. We have made it clear in our order and expected that some wisdom will prevail over the authority,” the HC said.

When the BBMP counsel said that guidelines are being framed, the HC said this was its direction and cited its earlier order which said, “We expect and hope that the public bodies or the state undertakings or corporation body of the state henceforth consider the concern expressed by this court and try to avoid such situation, by issuing appropriate directions or framing guidelines.” The hearing of the contempt petition was adjourned to December 13. Urban Development Department Secretary Ajay Nagabhushan MN, BBMP Commissioner Tushar Girinath, BBMP Chief Accounts Officer Vani, Malleshwaram Executive Engineer Jayashankar, and the State are the respondents in the petition.


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