The Delhi High Court, on Friday, opined that the Delhi University's (DU) rejection of a bid for security services was unjustified, as the University had only considered the fact that the Company's director was accused of sexual harassment without giving him a proper hearing.
The Bench comprising Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva Court was hearing a Petition filed by Sarvesh Security Service Pvt. Ltd, the company that provides security services to various public sectors and non-Government organizations including the Supreme Court of India.
The Company had responded to an e-tender issued by the DU, which had sought round the clock security services in the North Campus for two of its zones.
The Petitioner's tender had, however, been rejected at the technical evaluation stage, noting that the company's Director was facing prosecution for allegedly molesting a female security guard. It had now challenged its rejection, contending that the same was arbitrary. Besides, it had also contended that its bid was rejected without giving it a hearing.
The University, on the other hand, had submitted that the charges leveled against the bidder were serious. It had explained, "Given that the Delhi University is a public institution, involving movement of substantial number of students, teachers and other staff population, it was not unreasonable on its part to reject the petitioner’s bid at the technical evaluation stage."
The Court, however, did not agree with this submission and observed, "The stipulation with respect to consideration of tenders nowhere spell out qualifying conditions, except stating that an entity having blacklisted would be debarred. Although the Delhi University points out to the general conditions which entitle it to in public interest - reject any bid regardless of financial viability, what occurred in this case is that the rejection at the technical evaluation stage was with reference to something alien to and not a matter of eligibility stipulation. Concededly the petitioner’s director or other employees have not been convicted of the offence that he/they are charged with, nor has the petitioner been blacklisted. In the circumstances before rejecting the bid, fair hearing was necessary."
It then ruled that rejection of the tender at the threshold of the technical evaluation stage was unwarranted and opined that the Petitioner should make a representation before the DU, informing it of its version of facts. The University was directed to consider the representation within two weeks and was barred from finalizing the bid till the representation is decided.
The Court further clarified that the University, after considering the representation, shall issue a reasoned order and also evaluate its financial bid. At this stage, it observed, it would be open to the University to consider "larger public interest obligations" while making the decision.