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Adani Port Trust's Challenge To Disqualification In JNPA Tender: Supreme Court To Consider Legal Issues After Vacations

Srishti Ojha
30 Jun 2022 5:07 AM GMT
Adani Port Trusts Challenge To Disqualification In JNPA Tender: Supreme Court To Consider Legal Issues After Vacations

In Adani Port Trust's challenge to its disqualification in JNPA tender, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the matter to be listed post vacations to consider the issue of law after a request regarding the same was made by Senior Counsels appearing for the Trust.

"Senior Counsel states that petition may be heard after vacation. List after vacation" the Bench recorded

A vacation bench comprising Justice Abhay Oka and Justice MM Sundresh was informed by Senior Advocate AM Singhvi that urgency in the case has slipped away from their grasp as the bid has already been opened.

"Between yesterday & today they have opened the bid, & commercials are such that in any case I don't think actual figures can match the person whose bid has been opened", Singhvi submitted.

Mr Singhvi however also submitted that it is important for the Court to decide the issue of law, as because of the approach being adopted and wrong interpretation of relevant clauses, the Trust is being disqualified in multiple tenders and bids.

Mr Singhvi therefore urged the court to list the matter after the vacation.

Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul also appearing for the petitioner submitted that there are already judgements of High Courts saying that these clauses are disproportionate and arbitrary.

The bench was considering a petition by Adani Port Trust and Special Economic Zone against Bombay High Court's order dismissing its plea challenging the disqualification in the tender for upgradation of the container terminal in Navi Mumbai by the Board of Trustees of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA)

The matter was heard after an urgent listing was sought by Senior Advocate AM Singhvi before a vacation bench headed by Justice Surya Kant submitting that the High Court had dismissed its plea challenging the disqualification and that the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority was proceeding to invite other bids.

The Senior Counsel had also urged the bench to grant status quo by way of restraining the Port Authority to not proceed with the bids.

Adani before the High Court had termed JNPA's disqualification as "illegal and in violation of fundamental and legal rights." It had sought directions to restrain the Board from declaring the highest bidder or from signing a concession agreement with any other bidder pending hearing of the plea.

Adani sought directions to be allowed to participate in the Request For Proposals (RFP) stage of the tender process after a stay on the operation and implementation of the letter.

Before the High Court, JNPA opposed the plea seeking it's dismissal on the grounds that the court did not have the expertise to examine "terms and conditions of present day economic activities of the state." Therefore it could not intervene.

Terming the plea as "non meritorious", the Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik dismissed the same and had imposed costs of Rs. 5 lakh, payable to JNPA.

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