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Article 299 of the Indian Constitution

This article guides you through the provisions of Article 299 which talks about the conditions for the formation of a contract between the government and the citizens. The basic rule for the enforcement of any contract is the fulfillment of certain ingredients, similarly, the government contracts have specific pre-requisites to enforce them.

By: Meghna Rana

Contracts between the government and citizens are signed in various forms for construction, raw material supplies, electronics supplies, manufacturing, etc. There are certain contracts which are entered or formed by the executive, Article 298 provides such power to the executive. As contracts are being enforced, it gives the right to sue to both the parties. 

Article 299(1) of the constitution of India lays down three basic ingredients of such contracts which are:-

  1. It must be expressed by the President or the Governor.
  2. They must be executed or signed on behalf of the President or the Governor.
  3. The person executing such a contract must be directed or authorized by the President or the Governor.

In the case of Davecos Garment Factory v State of Rajasthan1, while discussing the validity of a contract for making uniforms, the inspector had forgotten to write- ‘signed on behalf of the government.’ The agreement was expressed to be made between the factory and the Governor of the State of Rajasthan who was to be called the “Government” in the clauses. Also, the Inspector General of Police had been duly authorized to execute the same on his behalf. The intention of the parties was quite clear.

The court held that it is a valid contract, a mere technicality missed by the inspector general does not affect the enforceability of the contract.

The court said that:

“In the absence of any properly framed rule requiring the specific mention of the words “on behalf of the Governor” at the place where the authority authorized by the Governor to enter into the contract has to append his signature it is not possible to hold that the agreements in the present case did not fully comply with the requirement of Article 299(1) of the Constitution.”

In every case, the authority for executing the contract doesn’t need to be expressly given. It can also be impliedly given.

Where arbitration decision was sought to be enforced in a court in a case of a contract of construction with a private builder, it was contended that the contract was signed by the executive engineer whereas the authorization was with the secretary of PWD. The court held that throughout the execution of the contract and the building work, the executive engineer was in touch with the secretary of PWD, so it was a case of implied authorization. The court declared this contract valid.2

The basic purpose of Article 299 is to protect both the parties of the contracts. The government is saved from the unnecessary burden of suits arising from contracts that should not be binding. On the other hand, the private individual can sue the government for the non-fulfillment of the conditions laid down. 

EndNotes:

  1. AIR 1971 SC 141
  2. State of Bihar v/s Messrs Karam Chand Thapar and Brothers Limited 1962 AIR 110

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