HP HC | “Silence amounts to acceptance”; Held, long period of silence and inaction on the part of petitioner amounts to acquiescence and estoppel

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J. contemplated a writ petition where the relief sought by the petitioner was ‘that the bid finalized in favor of respondent, pursuant to the auction with regard to the property referred to in auction notice which was published in the local newspaper may kindly be quashed and set-aside and that Respondent 1 be directed to conduct fresh auction of the property in question in accordance with law and established procedure as approved by law.’

Factual matrix of the case was that the petitioner was one of the prospective buyers in an auction that the proceedings whereof were eventually finalized in favor of Respondent 2, auction notice was published in a local newspaper for the invitation of tenders for the sale of the said properties. The attached properties were named under “Govind Sagar Matasya Sahakari Vipanan Avam Apurti Sang Ltd., Bilaspur”. The petitioner contended that the property which was put to sale was liable to be auctioned separately but the authorities auctioned it as on composite unit whereas, the petitioner as per the tender form had only applied for Items 2 and 4 i.e. one shop and compressor, condenser and allied fittings with panelling and pipeline, but Respondent 1 allowed Respondent 2 to make composite bid, which resulted in low price being fetched for the property and, therefore, an undue favor had been shown towards the alleged respondent. 

On the contrary, the respondent contended that the petitioner had filed a reply wherein preliminary objections regarding suppression of material facts, estoppel etc. had been taken. On merits, it was averred that the auction of the entire property was done through an open bid, so that the same may have fetched the highest price.

The Court observed that, a perusal of the quotation rates undoubtedly revealed that four properties had been mentioned in the auction notice, but there was nothing in the notice to suggest that each of the properties was to be sold separately. The Court further stated that if “petitioner was really serious in bidding for two items, then he would had definitely offered a bid, but the records revealed that no bid was made by the petitioner despite his being present there. All the proceedings took place in front of the petitioner, yet he never objected to the same. Having participated in the proceedings (though not bidding) with his eyes wide open, the petitioner cannot now turn around and question the bidding process.”

The Court further commented on the delay by the petitioner and stated that Long period of silence and inaction on the part of the petitioner amounts to acquiescence and estoppel, more particularly, when there is no explanation for his long silence. It was further opined that if the petitioner was ready to offer the higher price than offered by Respondent 2 and such offer could have been put forth even at any such subsequent date thereto, but the petitioner failed to do so. Hence, the petition was rejected as the Court found no merits. [Jafar Khan v. Distt. Audit Officer, 2019 SCC OnLine HP 1269, decided on 13-08-2019]

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