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SC to hear after vacation plea by Adani Ports against HC order

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NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would hear after vacation a plea filed by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) against the Bombay High Court order dismissing its petition challenging the disqualification of its bid in a tender issued by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) for upgradation of a container terminal in Navi Mumbai.

A vacation bench of Justices A S Oka and M M Sundresh was told by senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the petitioner, that the matter may be heard after vacation.

Singhvi said that urgency in the matter has kind of slipped away as between yesterday and today, the bid has been opened.

They have opened the bid and the commercials are such that in any case, I don’t think for the actual figures, I can match the person whose bid has been opened. So, your lordships need not be troubled now, he said.

But, it is very important to decide the issue of law. Your lordship may put it post-vacation. Because of this approach, I am being disqualified in multiple tenders and bids and it is the completely wrong interpretation of the relevant clause, Singhvi said.

The bench said the matter be listed after the vacation.

The apex court will resume normal functioning post the ongoing vacation on July 11.

Singhvi had on Tuesday sought urgent listing of the plea against the high court order.

I am India’s leading port manager and cleared the port trust bid in December 2021 but I was disqualified four months after that. I had challenged the disqualification before the Bombay High Court which passed the order on Monday evening. Now the authority is proceeding ahead with other bids, he had said while mentioning the matter before the top court on Tuesday.

He had told the apex court that the nature of the contract was the operation and maintenance of Jawaharlal Nehru Terminal through public bids.

The high court had on June 27 directed Adani to pay a cost of Rs five lakh for bringing to court an “unmeritorious case”.

Of this, Adani had already deposited Rs 4,24,800 with JNPA at the time of submitting its bid. The high court had asked JNPA to retain the amount and directed Adani to deposit the remaining amount.

Adani was disqualified by JNPA from a tender process to privatise the port authority’s container handling facility on May 3.

As per JNPA, the terms and conditions in its tender document said any firm involved in contract termination at other ports will be prohibited from participating in the terminal privatisation bidding process.

In December 2020, a coal handling terminal at the Visakhapatnam Port Authority that was operated by a unit of Adani was terminated.

Adani, however, had claimed in its plea that its disqualification was illegal.

The high court had said, “Far from committing any illegality, JNPA instead gave a fair opportunity to the petitioner (Adani) to bring the dispute (Visakhapatnam port authority episode) to the fore”.

It had said that in cases related to tenders, the court could only intervene if glaring illegality or a breach of a constitutional right had been committed.

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