J.K. Mohanty, J.
1. The petitioner is the owner of the truck bearing registration No. ORU 6829. This truck is alleged to havebeen involved in the commission of a forest offence and a proceeding has been started against the petitioner. A notice to show cause as to why the vehicle should not be confiscated u/s. 56(2)(a) of the Orissa Forest Act was served on him. The vehicle was also seized. The petitioner filed O.J.C. No. 604 of 1984 challenging the seizure of the truck and also the vires of certain provisions of the Act regarding confiscation and seizure of vehicles. In that writ petition, this Court passed order directing release of the truck on furnishing security of Rs. 1,00,000/- to the satisfaction of the authorised officer with the further stipulation for executing a bond undertaking to produce the vehicle before the authorised officer at the close of the confiscation proceeding, if so required. Failure to produce the vehicle before the authorised officer as and when called upon by him would amount to contempt of the order of this Court. By virtue of the order of this Court and after complying with the terms and conditions as mentioned above, the truck has been released. The petitioner now alleges that after the truck was released, he wanted to engage the same in some forest contract works. But to his surprise, he found that a letter dt. 4-5-1984 (Annexure 1) has been issued by the Divisional Forest Officer, Ghumsur North Division (O.P. No. 2) to the Divisional Forest Officers of Puri, Nayagarh, Phulbani Boudh, Balliguda, Ghumsur South and Parlakhemundi Divisions requesting them not to engage the above truck for transportation of any forest produce in their divisions till the finalisation of the case and to inform the check gates under their divisions to watch the activities of the truck. This letter (Annexure 1) is purported to have been issued in pursuance of the government letter dt. 22-6-81 (Annexure 2) by which the Secretary to Government, Forest, F. & A. H. Department had informed all Collectors, Chief Conservator of Forests, Additional Chief Conservator of Forests (Kendu Leaf), all Conservators of Forests and ail Divisional Forest Officers that if a truck or other mechanised vehicle is caught in connection with any forest offence, an immediate intimation should be sent to the Regional Transport Officer and Regional Transport Authority giving the registration number of the vehicle, name of the driver and his driving licence number and relevant section of theoffence, etc. Along with the information, a request should be made to the R.T.O./R.T.A. to suspend the registration number and the licence of the truck and the driver pending disposal of the case.
2. Though reference to the above letter has been made in Annexure 1, no such step has been taken. The petitioner's case is that after Annexure 1 was issued to the Divisional Forest Officers, he has been prevented from carrying on any forest contract work and also is facing difficulties in transporting forest materials and other articles through forest roads. Thus, he has been prevented from carrying on lawful business even though it has not been finally adjudged that he has been involved in any forest offence. According to the petitioner, Annexure 1 amounts to blacklisting him without giving him an opportunity of hearing,
3. The opposite parties in their counter have stated that the petitioner is involved in the commission of forest offence. The letter (Annexure 1) is merely a request to the concerned Divisional Forest Officers not to engage the truck ORU 6829. There is no impediment on the petitioner to carry on business in spite of the letter.
4. Law is well settled that nobody should be blacklisted without giving an opportunity of being heard. An order of blacklisting a person results in civil consequences. It affects the reputation of the person blacklisted not only in his dealings with the Government but in his dealing with private firm. It affects his business prospects. These principles have been enunciated in the decisions reported in (1971) 1 Cut WR 147, (Puranchandra Das v. Director of Public Instruction, Orissa), AIR 1975 SC 266 (Erusian Equipment and Chemicals Ltd. v. State of West Bengal) and AIR 1978 SC 930 (Joseph Vilangandan v. Executive Engineer (P.W.D.), Ernakulam).
5. Learned Additional Government Advocate relied on a decision reported in AIR 1959 SC 490 (C. K. Achutan v. State of Kerala) and submitted that the petitioner cannot claim as a matter of right to have any contract work with the Government agencies. In the above case, the contract was cancelled for violation of certain terms and conditions of the tender after giving notice forcancellation. So it has no direct application to the facts and circumstances of the present case.
6. It is true that the petitioner cannot claim as a matter of right to enter into contract with the Government. But it cannot be denied that he is entitled to equal treatment with others who offer tender or quotations. In the decision reported in AIR 1975 SC 266 it has been osberved : --
'The Government is a government of laws and not of men. It is true that neither the petitioner nor the respondent has any right to enter into a contract but they are entitled to equal treatment with others who offer tender or quotations for the purchase of the goods. This privilege arises because it is the Government which is trading with the public and the democratic form of Government demands equality and absence of arbitrariness and discrimination in such transactions. Hohfeld treats privileges as a form of liberty as opposed to a duty. The activities of the Government have a public element and, therefore, there should be fairness and equality. The State need not enter into any contract with any one but if it does so, it must do so fairly without discrimination and without unfair procedure.'
The petitioner has also filed further affidavit on 14-12-1984 giving instances as to how he has been prevented from carrying on forest contract works by the forest authorities. Even he has not been allowed to ply his truck on the forest roads in view of Annexure 1.
6A. After hearing argument of both sides and considering the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the view that opposite party No. 2 has no authority to write to the other Divisional Forest Officers as mentioned in Annexure 1 not to engage the truck ORU 6829 for transportation of any forest produce in their divisions till the finalisation of the the case (which is pending and the petitioner has not yet been found guilty). He should remember that he is to act within the bounds of the law and he should not have issued the letter in Annexure 1. We, therefore, direct that Annexure 1 shall not be given any weight and the petitioner shall not be restrained in any way from carrying on his lawful business in transporting forest produce and using the forest roads for lawful purposes.
7. With the aforesaid observations, this writ petition is disposed of.
K.P. Mohapatra, J.
8. I agree.