Adani Port Trust and Special Economic Zone has approached Supreme Court aggrieved by Bombay High Court's order of 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 SLP was mentioned by Senior Advocate AM Singhvi on Tuesday before the vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala.
Urging the bench to list the matter for Wednesday, Senior Counsel submitted that the High Court had dismissed its plea challenging the disqualification and that the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority was proceeding to invite other bids.
He also urged the bench to grant status quo by way of restraining the Port Authority to not proceed with the bids.
"I am India's leading port manager and cleared the port trust bid as early as December 2021 and I've been disqualified 4 months after. Disqualification was challenged by me and today morning they're threatening me to call other bids. Till tomorrow they should not proceed further. Nature of the contract is operation and maintenance of JLN Terminal through public bids," Singhvi submitted.
Considering the submissions made by Senior Counsel, the bench asked Senior Counsel to mention the plea before the Vacation Officer.
"Our difficulty is that before we decide the matter, there is a procedure prescribed. Mention before the vacation officer, he'll examine the urgency and then it'll go before the Registrar and if that doesn't happen then mention it before us," the bench remarked.
"Your lordship's direction cannot be circumscribed by the Registry," Singhvi submitted.
"We made an exception yesterday, passed an order to list the matter. But the Registry did not list the matter. We don't want to say more," Justice Surya Kant responded.
In his attempt to further persuade the bench, Senior Counsel said, "Order has come yesterday by the HC and let them hold their hands tomorrow. Please pass an order subject to the Registry, we will satisfy the Registrar too. Even the Port Trust Representative is here. on caveat Please order them to not proceed with the judgment."
"Let's see what the Vacation Officer and Registrar opines", Justice Kant said.
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 and dismissing the same had imposed costs of Rs. 5 lakh, payable to JNPA.