New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to the central government on a PIL seeking direction to evolve a new plan for revival of Super Bazaar, Delhi's first chain of retail stores.
A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice Jayant Nath sought responses from the ministries of consumer affairs and of agriculture, official liquidator, and Writers and Publishers which purchased the Super Bazar from the government.
The court posted the matter for July 31 and asked all the respondents to file their reply.
The court's direction came on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Ram Gopal Sisodia, an ex-legislator seeking revival of the Super Bazar, which introduced the concept of shopping under one roof at affordable prices.
Top lawyer Prashant Bhushan appearing for Sisodia also prayed for quashing of the central government's decision to sell its majority stake of 73 percent in Super Bazar Cooperative Society to Writers and Publisher which is a private company.
"Quash the order dated July 7, 2009 of (the central registrar) whereby amendments to the bye-laws of the Super Bazar were allowed by him as the same were de-hors the provisions of the Multi State Cooperatives Act, 2002," the PIL said.
The central government by its July 7, 2009 order sold its 73 percent shares to Writers and Publishers for Rs.1.16 crore on condition of revival of Super Bazar.
The petition said the rate (Rs.1.16 crore) at which Super Bazar was sold to the private company was the rate prevailing in the year 1966, when the society started and it was sold at less value after the financial irregularities and illegalities committed by its officials.
It further sought direction for the central government "to evolve a new plan of revival of Super Bazar without changing its nature of being a cooperative society as envisaged under Multi State Cooperative Act, 2002."
Super Bazar Society was converted into Multi State Co-operative Society under Multi State Co-operative Society Act in 1996.
The plea also added that Super Bazar has been left in the hands of private companies, who don't have any expertise to run a co-operative society or have never been into the retail business.
The PIL said the Super Bazar came into existence in 1966 as a consumer co-operative store. The main purpose for constituting of the Super Bazaar was to provide to the consumers quality daily-use products at cheaper rates.
It had more than 155 retails outlets. The bazaar was being run on 'non-profit no-loss' basis. For almost three decades, the Super Bazaar was running into huge profits, the plea added.
The petition said the Super Bazar at that time was having more than 40,000 members and 2,200 employees and the central government was also one of its members with 73.84 percent shares in the society.
"Till the year 1996 Super Bazar was making huge turnover by selling quality products to its customers at competitive prices. The downfall of the Super Bazar started in the year 1997 when S.S. Dhuri and Surender Gandhi were appointed as chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, along with three persons who represented central government in the society."
The petition alleged that these people committed financial irregularities and illegalities and diverted more than Rs.19 crore which resulted in closure of the Super Bazar in 2002 and sincere effort was never made at the government's end to revive it.
"The government of India, despite there being visible financial irregularities committed by these newly-appointed officials of Super Bazar, turned a blind eye to the whole situation and instead of plugging the losses decided to eventually close down Super Bazar, the once most profitable venture, in July 2002," the plea said.