close
Monday April 15, 2024

STBB told to ensure curriculum books procurement in required number

Direction came on a high court appeal filed by STBB against an order of an SHC single bench

By Jamal Khurshid
February 28, 2024
The Sindh High Court (SHC) building can be seen in this picture. — SHC Website
The Sindh High Court (SHC) building can be seen in this picture. — SHC Website

The Sindh High Court has directed the Sindh Textbook Board (STBB) to ensure that the entire quantity of books which it wants to procure and the number it has given in the bidding document shall be procured from the same publisher in each category without any reduction in quantity and at the successful bid amount.

The direction came on a high court appeal filed by the STBB against an order of an SHC single bench, which had directed the board to include within the bid documents the amount of funds available to the board to satisfy the contract of procuring books.

Publishers had apprehended that blue-eyed publishers know in advance the board’s financial ability and capability to honour its commitments and thus tinker with their quotes while making the offers to their advantage and the detriment of those bidders who are not a part of the favourites’ club.

The counsel for the publishers submitted that though Rule 49 of the procurement does not explicitly include the requirement of including financial disclosure and the direction of the court would add to transparency and provide an equal playing field to all bidders.

A division bench comprising Mohammad Shafi Siddiqui and Justice Omar Sial, after hearing the arguments of the counsel, observed that the SHC’s single bench did not order that the bidding process be reinitiated but ordered that a financial disclosure be made.

The court observed that the entire procurement process entails a lot of cost, time and effort and it is important to note that the books being procured are for the children of the province.

It further observed that delays in procuring textbooks could no doubt adversely impact the children of public schools. It directed the STBB to ensure that the entire quantity of books which the board wants to procure and the number of which it has given in the bidding document shall be procured from the same publisher in each category without any reduction in quantity and at the successful bid amount.