In a setback for Tata Motors, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday upheld its disqualification by the BEST from a tender bid for operating electric buses for being “technically unresponsive”.
A division bench of Justices SV Gangapurwala and Madhav Jamdar dismissed the petition filed by Tata Motors challenging BEST’s May 6 decision disqualifying the latter from the tender for 1,400 electric buses on account of alleged deviation from Tender specifications.
The tender was subsequently awarded to Evey Trans Pvt Ltd.
The HC has, however, held that the bid of Evey Trans Pvt Ltd “responsive” by the BEST, was incorrect and suggested BEST to issue fresh tender if required.
The bench said: “The Petitioner (TATA) was rightly disqualified. It is also held that the decision of BEST to hold Evey Trans responsive is incorrect. Evey is also held non-responsive. BEST may, if required, issue fresh tender.”
On February 26, BEST published an E-Tender Notice for two-bid e-tender for operation of Stage Carriage Services for public transport of 1,400 (+50% variation) in single decker AC electric buses (with driver) in the city of Mumbai and suburbs.
Tata submitted its bid on April 25, which was disqualified on May 6. Tata had challenged this before the HC.
Counsels for Tata, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi briefed by Karanjawala & Co. and Lexicon Law Partners, contended that it had submitted the technical and financial bid for the tender after a pre-bid meeting in which it had requested BEST to modify certain tender specifications, which BEST did based on the suggestion.
Meanwhile, BEST published the technical suitability evaluation of the tender and declared Tata’s bid as 'technically non-responsive'. Tata alleged that BEST’s decision was arbitrary as they had selectively relaxed conditions of the tender for Evey Trans Pvt Ltd, by allowing interruption in charging time and waiving off the requirements of matching of rates for evaluation of bids.
Considering there was no stay on the process, BEST’s counsel Venkatesh Dhond contended before the HC that it had issued Letters of Acceptance to Evey Trans Pvt Ltd.
BEST further alleged that Tata Motors was trying to amend its bid by filing petition before the HC and urging that the same be declared as ‘technically responsive’. BEST affidavit stated that, Tata Motors now by stating in petition that it is accepting the tender conditions, “is trying to amend its bid and trying to argue that now their bid which was no so, now ought to be ‘technically responsive’ and it ought to be considered”.
Official spokesperson for Evey Trans Pvt Ltd said that they will be challenging the order before the Supreme Court.