Rejection of technical bid not supported by qualifying documents is not illegal: HC

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Mar 22: High Court has held that rejection of the technical bid which was found to be not supported by any qualifying documents is not illegal.
Justice Tashi Rabstan stated this while passing judgment in a petition filed of one Rakesh Gupta seeking quashment of decision dated December 6, 2021, taken by respondents whereby the petitioner has been technically disqualified in reference to Request for Proposal (RFP)-Tender E-Bid No.2021-AAI-82001-1 issued on 13.07.2021 for concession to design, fit-out, finance, develop, market, operate, maintain and manage the food and beverage outlets at Civil Airport, Jammu.
He also sought quashment of decision contained in minutes of LCAC meeting held on 7th December 2021 taken by the respondents whereby while rejecting the technical bid of the petitioner, technical as well as financial bid of respondent was accepted notwithstanding the fact that the financial bid of the petitioner was much higher than the respondent.
After hearing Senior Advocate Sunil Sethi with Advocate Navyug Sethi for the petitioner whereas Advocate Inderjeet Gupta with Advocate Yatin Mahajan for the Airports Authority of India and Advocate Siddhant Gupta for the respondent, Justice Tashi Rabstan observed, “it is not in dispute that Airports Authority of India is engaged in development, operations and maintenance of airports in India. To provide enhanced facilities to the airport users, the respondent intended to grant the concession to design, fit-out, finance, develop, market, operate maintain and manage the Food and Beverage outlets of the concessioned premises in the Civil Airport, Jammu”.
“As per RFP, the bidder must have minimum annual turnover of Rupees one crore only (for Jammu Airport) from F&B business during two years (for which technical experience has been claimed) in the last seven years. As per the profit and loss account for the year ended 31st March, 2021 of petitioner, as contended by the respondents, the turnover from relevant business is Rs.58,78,065.92, which is below the required turnover during the technical experience, hence petitioner was found ineligible in financial capacity of the tender”, the High Court said, adding “since petitioner was found ineligible in technical bid, so his financial bid was not opened and at the same time respondent fulfilled the terms and conditions so his financial bid was accepted”.
“If petitioner says and seeks any relaxation in view of COVID, then in such circumstances, it is not only petitioner but other similarly situated persons, having same turnover as projected by petitioner, were/are required to be called to compete for NIT. Obviously, such persons had not applied or responded to NIT knowing that they would not succeed having less turnover”, High Court said, adding “again, such a situation cannot be asked by the court as it would amount to be a decision-making authority which is the domain of respondent-authority and not that of the court”.
While dismissing the petition, Justice Rabstan observed, “in view of the legal position and scope of writ jurisdiction with regard to interference in the contractual matters as laid down in the judgments, this court does not find any illegality in the decision taken by the respondents to reject the technical bid of petitioner, which was found to be not supported by any qualifying documents”.
“The impugned decision is, therefore, in consonance with terms and conditions of the contract and no explanation thereto can be found”, High Court said.