[Navi Mumbai Container Terminal] Supreme Court defers hearing Adani ports challenge to their disqualification from tender process

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Apex court has deferred hearing in a plea moved by Adani Ports against the Bombay High Court order rejecting a challenge to its disqualification from the tender process initiated for the up-gradation of the Navi Mumbai container terminal.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday deferred hearing in a plea moved by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd. against the Bombay High Court order. The High Court order has been passed rejecting Adani Ports plea against their disqualification from the tender process for the up-gradation of Navi Mumbai container terminal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority.

A bench of Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice MM Sundresh has listed the matter after the vacation as Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi informed the bench that the urgency in the matter seems to be shifted.

Singhvi informed the bench that between yesterday and today they have opened the bid and the situation is such that the actual figures may not match the bid that has been opened.

However, Singhvi further submitted that the law needs to be settled as, because of such an approach Adani was getting disqualified from various tenders.

Yesterday, the matter was mentioned by Singhvi before a vacation bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice JB Pardiwala, however, the bench has asked Singhvi to mention the matter before the registry.

The Bombay High Court on Monday rejected Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd's plea against their disqualification.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik had refused to accept the request of Adani Ports to stay in the bidding process till they seek relief before the apex court.

Before the High Court, Adani Ports alleged that their disqualification was illegal and in violation of fundamental and legal rights.

Accordingly, a stay on the bidding process till the pendency of the plea was sought.

The Tender had been circulated by way of a Request for Qualification for upgradation, operation, maintenance, and transfer of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Container Terminal (JNPCT) through a Public-Private Partnership.

High Court while dismissing the plea had noted, "The terms and conditions of the RFQ (Request for Qualification) are meant to govern all prospective applicants/bidders and even though a particular applicant/bidder may apply as a single entity, it does not acquire a right of being considered if any of its associate/s’ contracts have been terminated by a public authority during the last 3 (three) years."

CJ led bench had further said, "we have no hesitation to hold that there has been a material misrepresentation on the petitioner’s part and the same was indeed an additional reason for which its disqualification was attracted in terms of the sub-clauses of clause 2.7 extracted above."

Thus, while dismissing the petition, High Court directed Adani Ports to bear a cost of Rs. 5,00,000/- for bringing an unmeritorious case for adjudication.

Case Title: Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited vs. Board of Trustees of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority & Ors