High Court directs IRCTC to re-assess the Bids received for setting up Water Plants

NEW DELHI: While observing that the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) acted in a “capricious manner” by rejecting a company’s claim for a tender to select a developer for setting up and operating water plants, the Delhi High Court (HC) has directed the corporation to reevaluate the bids and take a final decision in the matter.

The directions came after the ABC Beverages Private Limited filed a petition in the court, stating that its claim for the tender was rejected just because a notarial stamp on certain documents was missing. The tender was then given to the Surya Infrastructure Private Limited, despite certain lapses.

A Bench of Justices Ravindra Bhat and SP Garg held that “the rejection was meted out in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner, since Surya was made aware of similar discrepancies for their correction, after the submission of bids”.

“The distinction sought to be made between the filings in the petitioner’s documents and those of Surya, in the opinion of the court, is artificial,” the Bench said in a judgment, pronounced on July 28.

The court held that, at least, in the case of the petitioner, only the notary stamp was missing, which does not undermine the effectiveness of the documents. In the case of the winner, however, requisite documents were not on record, which was ignored by the tender committee, stating that these were merely “ancillary”, documents, given that the registration number of the company was disclosed.

“By not giving due and equal consideration to the petitioner while considering their technical bid, as was given to other bidders, the IRCTC has acted in a capricious manner resulting in discrimination. The court is of the opinion that the rejection of the petitioner’s bid in the circumstances was unjustified,” the Bench ruled.

Rather than setting aside the entire tender process, however, the court held that the course would be to correct the decision making and open the financial bid of the petitioner (ABC Beverages) and decide as to who shall be awarded the contract. The court then directed the procedure to be completed within three weeks.