Supreme Court seeks response from ports authority on barring Adani
The case pertains to the tender for upgradation of the container terminal in Navi Mumbai
The Supreme Court has sought the response of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) on the appeal filed by Adani Ports challenging a judgment of the Bombay High Court, which imposed a fine of Rs.5 lakh on Adani Ports.
In the Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited vs Board of Trustees of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority & Ors., case, the Bombay High Court dismissed Adani Ports’ appeal challenging the disqualification of its bid in connection with a tender issued by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) for upgradation of the container terminal in Navi Mumbai. It had also imposed a fine of Rs.5 lakhs on the company.
The bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana, Justice Hima Kohli, and Justice Krishna Murari issued the notice on Adani Ports’ plea and posted the matter for hearing next week.
JNPA had issued a global invitation calling for applications from interested parties for the operation and maintenance of their container terminal for a period of 30 years. But even before the procedure for bidding could begin, its Board of Trustees sent a notice to Adani Ports asking them to show cause why they should not be disqualified from the tender.
The basis for the notice was an order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which had upheld the termination of a concession agreement by the Vishakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT).
After its response, Adani Ports was granted a personal hearing by the Board. Subsequently, the former sought a ‘without prejudice’ participation in the bid.
However, the Board sent a letter to Adani Ports that as VPT has issued a termination letter to them, it was disqualified from participating in the tender process.
Adani Ports then moved the Bombay High Court. But the bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik dismissed the petition.
In its ruling, the bench stated, “The decision of JNPT to disqualify the petitioner after having once declared it as qualified, to our mind, conforms to the settled law that JNPT was bound by the tender terms and conditions, which amounts to a representation to the public, and that any deviation would have amounted to a fraud on the public.”
It also held that since Adani Ports brought an unmeritorious case for adjudication, it shall bear the costs of the proceeding, assessed at Rs.5 lakh.
This led to Adani Ports appealing before the apex court.
While senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi and advocate EC Agrawala appeared for Adani Ports, the respondents were represented by advocates Ashutosh Ghade and Jaikriti S Jadeja.