Mumbai: In a respite for the Slum Rehabilitation Authority, the Bombay High Court has quashed a tribunal's order, which directed it to pay over Rs 88 crores to a private consultant who was instrumental in drafting the Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP). The High Court noted that since the authorities failed continuously to get a bidder for the DRP, they were not bound to pay the amounts as agreed in November 2008. A bench of Justice Girish Kulkarni opined that since there have been no bidders for the project, despite inviting global tenders twice or thrice, the consultant - Mukesh Mehta -- cannot claim damages.
The SRA was tasked by the then Maharashtra government to pay Rs 14 crores to Mehta after the pre-tender formalities were completed. An additional amount of Rs 42 crores was agreed to be paid after the bids were finalised. The authorities had also decided to pay a share to the consultant from the premium SRA would receive from potential developers. However, despite floating global tenders, the project did not get a single bidder and subsequently, the SRA abandoned the project. The authority, later in 2016, again made an attempt to invite tenders, but the process has been inconclusive
Taking exception to the 2016 advertisement (inviting bidders across the world), Mehta moved a tribunal seeking damages worth crores of rupees. He claimed that the authorities invited fresh bids on the basis of his DRP plan. Opposing the demand, the SRA claimed to have paid over Rs 7 crore to Mehta, out of the Rs 14 crore, an amount that was to be paid after completion of pre-tender activities. The tribunal, after considering the material on record, passed an adverse order against the SRA and ordered it to pay over Rs 88 crores to Mehta for using his services. On Tuesday, Justice Kulkarni pronounced a judgment quashing this February 2018 order of the tribunal. "...Despite efforts, no bids could be received and finalised. This being a situation beyond the control of any of the parties, it could not have been said that there was a breach of agreement," Justice Kulkarni held.