MSRDC 'playing favourites', disqualified firm tells HC

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SummaryInfrastructure, which the MSRDC has ultimately shortlisted for final bidding along with a Reliance ADAG group firm.

After it was disqualified from bidding for toll collection on Bandra-Worli sea link, SMS Infrastructure has challenged the decision saying the state government agency in charge has favoured certain companies and violated principles of fair competition.

The company has filed a petition in the Bombay High Court against Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), saying there are no grounds for disqualifying the company based on the clauses laid down in the tender document.

SMS Infrastructure has said the clause cited by MSRDC while disqualifying the firm was provided to only two of the seven companies who had downloaded the pre-qualification bid documents, as written responses to the queries these two companies had raised. The two companies are Mumbai Entry Point Ltd (MEPL) and IRB Infrastructure, which the MSRDC has ultimately shortlisted for final bidding along with a Reliance ADAG group firm. MEPL is owned by Jayant Mhaiskar, brother of Virendra Mhaiskar, promoter of IRB Infrastructure, and has been collecting toll on the sea link since it was opened to traffic in 2009.

In a rejoinder filed in the Bombay High Court Thursday, the company said the MSRDC’s actions are “purely arbitrary and non-bonafide.” It said the MSRDC had ‘conveniently’ interpreted a clause in the tender document by relying upon certain communication with only two bidders. The company added that it is a clear case where MSRDC has resorted to “malpractice, favouritism and colourable exercise.”

A senior MSRDC official, however, said, “There is no question of favouritism. We have also shortlisted one other company that has no connection with the Mhaiskar brothers.”

The MSRDC official said the company did not satisfy one of the eligibility criteria of having taken up at least one similar contract amounting to Rs 120 crore in any of the past seven years. As per the bid document, if the experience is being shown as a contract executed through a special purpose vehicle, the bidding company must have at least a 26 per cent stake in the consortium.

SMS Infrastructure had claimed toll collection experience of Rs 299.56 crore from May 2011-March 2012, and Rs 332.63 crore from April 2012-March 2013 in Delhi through a consortium SMS AAWW Tollways, in which it had a 26 per cent stake. However, the MSRDC considered the experience of SMS Infrastructure only to the extent of its financial holding in the company, and thus disqualified the company.

The petitioner’s counsel R Kohli said, “There is

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