Judicial Review of administrative actions is intended to prevent arbitrariness, bias and mala fides. : Andhra Pradesh High Court

Administrative activity is subject to judicial review in order to prevent arbitrariness, irrationality, unreasonableness, bias, and mala fides. Its goal is to see if a choice or decision is made “lawfully,” not to see if the choice or decision is “sound.” Certain unique aspects should be kept in mind while using the judicial review power in instances involving tenders or contract awards was referred by Justice R.Raghunandan Rao of Andhra Pradesh High Court in the matter of M/S. K. Beeran Kutty versus State of Andhra Pradesh [WRIT PETITION No.10457 of 2021]

The order was passed for the past 34 years, the petitioner claims to be a diet contractor who has supplied diet to inpatients and doctors at several hospitals in Tirupati, including the 3rd respondent hospital. The petitioner also works as a dietician for the fourth respondent hospital. 

Respondents 2 and 4 published a sealed tender notice in Sl.No.222/DIET/2021, dated 12.04.2021, for the supply of diet for inpatients and duty doctors for a two-year term. All offers submitted in response to the above-mentioned tender were to be evaluated in two stages: technical and financial.

Learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner will argue that the petitioner’s bid was rejected because he had not provided an experience certificate for the previous three years and that all of his experience certificates were for times prior to 2017. He claims that the petitioner’s proposal could not have been rejected on that basis. He claims that the obligation to provide an experience certificate was stated in G.O.Ms.No.325 in clause 12 of the said G.O, which stated that a “good conduct certificate from the appropriate hospital authority” had been provided. Sri K.G.Krishna Murthy, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioner, contends that the only requirement was that the petitioner provides a good conduct certificate and that in the absence of any stipulation for the period for which good conduct is required, the 3rd respondent committee could not have discriminated against the petitioner on the basis that the 5th respondent provided experience certificates. He contends that the 3rd respondent committee could not have imposed a condition requiring the certificate to be for immediate past experience in the absence of any provision as to the period for which such certificate should be presented.He claims that, in any case, he was the 3rd respondent’s diet supply contractor until 2020, and that he had applied to the 3rd respondent for the granting of such a certificate. The aforementioned certificate, however, was not issued by the 3rd respondent, therefore it could not be delivered.

Because all three tenderers had quoted the same price and there was no possibility of a price reduction, the 2nd respondent committee had to consider the matter and make a decision as to who would be more suitable for executing the contract, according to learned Senior Counsel for the 5th respondent and learned Government Pleader for Medical and Health. In this situation, the 2nd respondent committee decided to award the contract to the 5th respondent because neither the petitioner nor any other tenderer to whom Sri Y.Koteswara Rao had provided up-to-date experience certificates.

A summary of the foregoing decisions, as well as the Supreme Court’s decisions in Raunaq International Limited vs. I.V.R. Construction Limited Cochin International Airport Limited vs. Air India Limited (2007) 14 SCC 514 (1999) 1 SCC 492 International Airport Limited 8, Metcalfe & Hodgkinson (P) Limited vs. Master Marine Services (P) Limited 9, Michigan Rubber (India) Limited vs. State of Karnataka10, Municipal Corporation of Ujjain vs. BVG (India) Limited11 would establish the notion that courts should not typically intervene in contract award decisions unless there is clear illegality or arbitrariness.

This claim must be dismissed for two reasons. To begin with, the petitioner attempted to obtain such a certificate from the 3rd respondent-hospital but was unable due to complaints filed against him while working as a diet contractor for the 3rd respondent-hospital. Second, it cannot be maintained that the 3rd respondent-choice committee’s to consider good performance as a criterion for finalising the tender is so arbitrary that no reasonable person would make such a judgement.

In the circumstances, the respondents’ decision to finalise the offer in favour of the 5th respondent and award the contract to the 5th respondent cannot be said to be so arbitrary that it necessitates intervention from this Court. The Writ Petition has been dismissed as a result of the circumstances.

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