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Upgrade of Navi Mumbai container terminal: Bombay HC rejects Adani Ports plea against disqualification from tender process

The court rejected the plea as 'non -meritorious' and directed Adani Ports to pay Rs 5 lakh to the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority.

The Bombay High Court Monday dismissed the plea by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) Ltd challenging the disqualification of its bid for upgrading the container terminal of the state-run Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) in Navi Mumbai by the Board of Trustees of JNPA.

The court rejected the plea as ‘non -meritorious’ and directed it to pay Rs 5 lakh to the JNPA. However, Adani Ports has already submitted Rs 4.25 lakh with tender to JNPA. The court directed Adani Ports to deposit the remaining Rs 75, 000 to JNPA.

The bench also refused Adani Ports’ request to maintain status quo and not to open bids till it seeks further relief before the Supreme Court.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik passed the judgment on Adani’s plea, after it concluded the hearing on June 21.

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The plea by the multi-location port developer and operator termed the disqualification of its bid by the JNPA as “illegal and in violation of fundamental and legal rights.”

Adani Ports sought from the court a direction to restrain the Board from declaring the highest bidder or from signing a concession agreement with any other bidder pending hearing of the plea. “In the event the highest bidder is declared and steps have been taken in furtherance to that, the effect and operation of the same be stayed,” the company urged.

As an alternative, it urged the court to stay the operation and implementation of the disqualification letter, and allow the firm to participate in the Request For Proposals (RFP) stage of the tender process.

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Adani Ports was disqualified from the tender process to upgrade the state-run port authority’s container handling facility on May 3.

The Board had issued a tender, a global invitation of Request For Qualification (RFQ) calling for application from interested parties for the upgrade, operation, maintenance, and transfer of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Container Terminal, through a public private partnership (PPP) for a concession period of 30 years.

However, In its affidavit, the JNPA sought dismissal of the plea stating that the court, which does not have expertise to examine “terms and conditions of present day economic activities of the state,” cannot intervene in the plea.

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“The project involves financial implication and investment of over Rs 827 crore. If the tender is delayed, operations at JN Port container terminal will come to a complete halt, and the port productivity, berth productivity and service to the trade will also get affected,” it said.

The JNPA, which was represented by senior advocate Venkatesh Dhond and advocate Abhishek Salian, had said that even if the court finds total arbitrariness or tender being granted in a mala fide manner, still it should refrain from interfering in the grant of tender.

First published on: 27-06-2022 at 16:54 IST
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