Lawmakers chew over NA’s bid to buy biscuits

  • Some MPs seek House panel intervention, others say court should take the decision as case is sub judice
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 20, 2016-

The Nepal Army’s bid to buy biscuits has left lawmakers divided with some calling for investigation into the matter saying the Army has violated the Public Procurement Act and others making a pitch for leaving the case, which is sub judice, for the court to decide. 

The NA on December 13 had reached an agreement with Pashupati Biscuits Industries to procure biscuits—without calling for tender—for around 100,000 personnel for three years. 

But another company by the name of Mark Suppliers moved the Patan Appellate Court, demanding that the NA’s bid to buy biscuits from Pashupati Biscuits Industries, a subsidiary of the Chaudhary Group, be stopped. Responding to the case filed by Pemba Sherpa on behalf of Mark Suppliers, the Patan Appellate Court on January 15 directed the NA not to procure biscuits from Pashupati Biscuit Industries, saying the agreement violated the spirit of the Public Procurement Act.

As per the deal worth around Rs 1.6 billion, the Duhabi-based company was to supply biscuits to the national force from January 15, 2016 to January 14, 2019.  

During a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Industry, Commerce and Consumer Rights on Tuesday, some lawmakers argued that the House panel should intervene in the matter “as the NA had violated the Public Procurement Act”, while others were of the view that such parliamentary move would be against its jurisdiction as the case is sub judice. 

During the January 15 order, a division bench of Judges Til Prasad Shrestha and Saranga Subedi had asked the Army not to implement the agreement till a final decision was made. 

In its argument to the court, the Army had claimed that Pashupati Biscuits Industries was selected as it was the only company in the country which could produce “high energy biscuits”. 

The court, however, had said the biscuit deal was against' Clause 41 (1) of 

Public Procurement Act 2006, which makes bidding mandatory during procurement of any item that costs more than Rs 6 million. 

“As the issue is also related to consumers’ rights, we have to investigate into the matter,” said CPN-UML lawmaker Subas Chandra Thakuri, claiming that “the Army had abused the authority”. He added that as the court has already issued an interim order, there is nothing wrong in investigating the case. 

However, Nepali Congress lawmakers Mahalaxmi Upadhyay and Chandra Maharjan among others said that the House committee should not intervene until a final decision is taken by the court. Mark Suppliers, on the behalf of Asian Biscuits, had also filed a case at the House committee after the Army continued to purchase biscuits from Pashupati Biscuits Industries despite court order. 

UML’s Thakuri said that it was contempt of court that Army was buying biscuits violating court’s stay order. 

Published: 20-04-2016 08:34

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