Expert panel moots minimal intervention of courts in public works

Expert panel moots minimal intervention of courts in public works

New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) In order to facilitate “ease of doing business”, the courts’ intervention in public works should be minimal, an expert panel recommended on Monday.

The Expert Committee set up to examine the Specific Relief Act 1963 that governed provisions about intervention of courts and tribunals submitted its report to the Union Law and Justice Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda in which it among others decided to provide guidelines for reducing the discretion granted to courts and tribunals while granting performance and injunctive reliefs, an official release said here.

“Any public work must progress without interruption. This requires consideration whether a court’s intervention in public works should be minimal. Smooth functioning of public works projects can be effectively managed through a monitoring system and regulatory mechanism,” the panel said, according to the Law Ministry statement.

The panel further said, “there is a need to classify diverse public utility contracts as a distinct class recognising the inherent public interest/importance to be addressed in the Act”.

“The role of courts in this exercise is to interfere to the minimum extent so that public works projects will not be impeded or stalled,” it added.

The expert committee examined the need to bring necessary changes since “tremendous developments” have taken place since 1963 and there is a “changed scenario” as of now involving contract based infrastructure developments, public private partnerships and other public projects, involving huge investments.

The committee decided, according to the release, “to change the approach, from damages being the rule and specific performance being the exception, to specific performance being the rule, and damages being the alternate remedy”.

It also favoured introduction of provisions for rights of third parties other than for government contracts and to consider addressing unconscionable contracts, unfair contracts, reciprocity in contracts etc. and implied terms.

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