Court will interfere in tender or contractual matters only when the process adopted or decision made by the authority is mala fide or intended to favor someone : Jammu and Kashmir High Court

Interference is made by the court only when the process adopted or decision made is so arbitrary and irrational that the court can say : ‘the decision is such that no responsible authority acting reasonably and in accordance with relevant law could have reached’. This was held in the judgment passed by a single judge bench comprising of HON’BLE MRS. JUSTICE SINDHU SHARMA, in the matter M/s New J.K. Roadways V. Union Territory of J&K and others. [CMAM No. 34/2014], dealt with an issue where the petitioner filed a petition seeking quashing of allotment of contract to respondent No. 5 and further seeks direction for allotment of the contract to the petitioner.

The contention of the petitioner is that respondent No. 5 was not qualified for allotment of contract as per the terms and conditions of the tender as the said firm did not possess the requisite service license authorizing it to execute the contract, as its license to run Motor Transport service was valid only upto 31.03.2020. Since respondent No. 5 lacked this essential requirement, therefore, the firm could not be awarded the contract. It is also submitted that respondent No. 5 did not possess requisite number of vehicles as per the condition of contract.

Thus, the respondent No. 5 did not fulfil the essential condition of possessing 30 vehicles of required specification, and also lacked the necessary experience of work done amounting to Rs. 2.00 crore as well as working experience of five years, therefore, the official respondents ought to have outrighltly rejected the bid of respondent No. 5 and could have allotted the contract to the petitioner.

The Tender Opening Committee found that since the petitioner did not satisfy this most essential condition, as the petitioner had submitted list of only HMV vehicles, therefore, the petitioner’s bid was rightly rejected and the contract was allotted to the lowest eligible bidder. Therefore, the petitioner having failed to qualify the technical bid cannot now question the allotment of the contract of hiring vehicles to respondent No. 5.

The respondent submitted that since the petitioner failed to satisfy the prescribed criteria, his technical bid was rejected, therefore, the petitioner cannot assail the allotment of contract made in favour of respondent No. 5, who was found eligible by the tender allotment committee. Respondent No. 5 had qualified the technical bid and being the lowest bidder and therefore, the contract was accordingly allotted in its favour.

The petitioner has questioned the allotment of the contract to respondent No. 5 mainly on the ground that it is against the terms and conditions of the tender. As per the terms and conditions, of the tender notice, applicants had to (i) provide service license issued by the competent authority for handling of transportation; (ii) possess/operate at least 30 vehicles of required specification; & (iii) the firm/association should have working experience of at least five years and work should not less than two crores.

After hearing both sides, the Hon’ble High Court of Jammu and Kashmir dismissed the petition and held no allegation of any mala fides or bias against any of the official respondents. Even otherwise, when charge of mala-fides or bias is to be laid, the officer concerned has to be impleaded as party by name. None of the respondents have been impleaded by name in this case, so the question of showing any favour to respondent No. 5 does not arise.

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Judgement reviewed by – Vaishnavi Raman

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