Saturday, 4 June 2016

How doctrine of "level playing field" is applicable in govt contract?

When Article 19(1)(g) confers fundamental right to carry on business to a company, it is entitled to invoke the said doctrine of "level playing field". We may clarify that this doctrine is, however, 2 (2007) 8 SCC 1 VRD 28 of 31 WP2753.13.doc subject to public interest. In the world of globalisation, competition is an important factor to be kept in mind. The doctrine of "level playing field" is an important doctrine which is embodied in Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. This is because the said doctrine provides space within which equally placed competitors are allowed to bid so as to subserve the larger public interest. "Globalisation", in essence, is liberalisation of trade. Today India has dismantled licence raj. The economic reforms introduced after 1992 have brought in the concept of "globalisation". Decisions or acts which result in unequal and discriminatory treatment, would violate the doctrine of "level playing field" embodied in Article 19(1)(g). Time has come, therefore, to say that Article 14 which refers to the principle of "equality" should not be read as a stand alone item but it should be read in conjunction withArticle 21 which embodies several aspects of life. There is one more aspect which needs to be mentioned in the matter of implementation of the aforestated doctrine of "level playing field". According to Lord Goldsmith, commitment to the "rule of law" is the heart of parliamentary democracy. One of the important elements of the "rule of law" is legal certainty. Article 14 applies to government policies and if the policy or act of the Government, even in contractual matters, fails to satisfy the test of "reasonableness", then such an act or decision would be unconstitutional."
Bombay High Court
Central Railways Caterers' ... vs Union Of India & 4 Ors on 8 January, 2016
Bench: S.C. Dharmadhikari

Read full judgment here: click here
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