HC relief for traditional Kakinada port

Hyderabad, June 30: Justice NV Ramana of the AP High Court quashed a State Government decision permitting the handling of fertilizer cargo at the Deep Water Port instead of the Anchorage Port.

The judge allowed writ petitions filed by the Kakinada Port Steel Barges and Deep Water Port Workers’ Union and held that while framing policies it “must balance its economic interests vis-a-vis the interest of its citizens, and in the guise of policy decisions they cannot confer more benefits on the private parties than what the original agreement/ contract conferred”.

Kakinada Port has two ports — the Anchorage Port (traditional) and the Deep Water Port (modern).

The government decided to privatise the latter in favour of a private consortium and retain the Anchorage Port for working unions. In an earlier writ petition, the government informed the court of its policy of ensuring that fertilizers will only be handled at the Anchorage Port. It took a policy decision reiterating this on 13 October 2008 but just five days later, on October 18, permitted handling of fertilizer cargo at the Deep Water Port.

Justice Ramana perused the file in detail and noticed that even the recommendation from the then chief minister was only for one month during the agricultural season.

The subsequent decision permitting the handling at the Deep Water Port was found by the judge to be at the mere instance of the Secretary to the Agricultural Department though “there was no new material whatsoever to place before the government by way of statistics”.

Faulting the government for whimsicality in the in the name of policy decisions, Justice Ramana said the government had “a constitutional duty to secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people” and that “it shall strive to minimise the inequalities in income and endeavour to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities”.

The judge faulted the decisionmaking process as one swayed by the note by the Secretary to the Agricultural Department which reversed the policy.

In a declaration of far-reaching import, Justice Ramana also declared that the government had a post-contractual duty to ensure that private parties “do not operate beyond the agreement”.

HERITAGE BUILDING: A division bench of the AP High Court comprising Chief Justice Nisar Ahmed Kakru and Justice Vilas Afzalpurkar granted time in a public interest writ petition challenging the exclusion of the Vict o r i a Memorial Hospital (Judgekhana) from the list of Heritage Structures.

INTACH Forum for Better Hyderabad and others had complained that the exclusion of the building which was declared a heritage structure in 1998 by the government order made in February 4 was unjust and illegal.

The bench took objection to an averment that “it was brought to the notice of the authorities that judges themselves wanted to move out of the premises” and left it to the petitioner to file the necessary pleadings.