The Gujarat High Court recently imposed costs of Rs. 1 lakh on seven event management firms for dragging Gujarat University (GU) to the court and challenging the introduction of eligibility criteria for bidders for the lease to manage the university’s convention centre and exhibition hall.
The Bench comprising Justice AS Dave and Justice Biren Vaishnav scorned at the “unholy alliance” created by the petitioners for arguing before the court without any “justifiable reason”, and directed that the amount be deposited with the registry within ten days.
Two petitions had been filed by the event management firms—Labh Décor, 9 Square Hospitality, Shangar Décor Ltd, Resource, Deep Gandhi Associates, Cherish Events and R. Gandhi & Co.
They had not participated in the tender process, and had now contended that the modified basic eligibility and technical bid evaluation criteria, requiring consideration of turnover of the bidder for awarding marks for bid evaluation, had no rational nexus to the object sought to be achieved by the University.
They had in fact asserted that the modifications in the eligibility criteria were introduced with the sole intention of favouring M/s. Lallooji & Sons, which had been awarded the lease.
The court, however, ruled that GU’s decision was not arbitrary, relying on several Supreme Court judgments on various facets of commercial contracts. It observed, “Even decisions making process so elaborately referred to by us reveal that the respondent No.1 has acted within four corners of law leaving no room of doubt of any arbitrariness or the decision can be said to be contrary to public interest and, therefore, we find no merit in the submissions made by learned advocate for the petitioners.”
The court then directed payment of costs of Rs. 1 lakh for each petition, ordering, “Before parting, we may note that efforts made by unholy alliance of the petitioners in filing the petitions arguing the case by taking substantial time of the Court for no justifiable reason amounts abuse of process of law, we are of the considered opinion that if we do not award cost we will be failing in our duty as other deserving cases were to be adjourned and petitioners of both these writ petitions are directed to pay Rs.1 lakh cost for each petition and to be deposited in the registry within 10 days from the date of the copy of the judgment received.”
Read the Judgment Here