HC allows litigant to challenge Health Minister’s order
The Karnataka High Court on Friday allowed a petitioner to amend a petition to question the legality of the Health Minister’s decision to cancel a tender to procure hi-tech ambulance services after the State government failed to share details of a discussion in a ‘public forum’ and ‘expert opinion’, which were cited by the Minister to cancel the tender.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justie Sachin Shankar passed the order while hearing a PIL petition filed by Bharat Punarothana Trust, Bengaluru.
“It appears that officials have not brought to the notice of the Minister the fact that the High Court has been monitoring the progress of procuring hi-tech ambulance services,” the bench observed while posing a query to the government whether the tender could have been cancelled without informing the court, which has been monitoring the procurement process.
Though Minister K. Sudhakar had cited discussion in a ‘public forum’ and ‘expert opinion’ in his note in the file, the bench pointed out that the government has not produced any material on the discussion in a public forum or expert opinion, but has only claimed that the Minister had gathered oral views from doctors of various hospitals on the requirement for more ambulances.
When the government counsel contended that expert committees are reviewing the process, the bench pointed out from the government records that earlier health minister, who had raised objection, had later approved the tender only after taking the views of a high-power expert committee.
It was contended on behalf of the government that the Health Minister is a doctor and had applied his mind about the need for more ambulances as a tender was floated to procure only one ambulance per 92,000 population.