Director general of Project Sea Bird had invited pre-qualification bids for constructing ship lift civil works at the Karwar Port in Karnataka. The matter came up before the court following a petition filed by Gammon India, one of the bidders.
Dismissing the petition, a bench comprising acting chief justice Devender Gupta and justice AK Sikri observed, we do not find any mala fides or unfairness in the manner in which the bids were opened...The bids are yet to be evaluated. At this stage, we do not find any reason to interfere in the matter, especially when the bid of Skanska Cementation India is less by Rs 14 crore.
Four parties, Gammon India, Larson and Toubro, Skanska Cementation and Afcons Infrastructure had submitted tenders. L&T and Skanska submitted covering letters along with tenders which had certain assumptions and deviations. Before opening the tenders, the tendering panel asked both these bidders to withdraw their assumptions, which they did. Gammon objected to this move saying the assumptions were conditions and therefore their tenders were conditional and as such substantially non-responsive.
The government contended that the assumptions were not linked with the contract price, thus the total contract value remained unconditional. Not satisfied with this argument, Gammon moved the HC seeking a direction to the Centre to reject the tenders of both L&T and Skanska as not being in conformity with tender specifications.
Gammon counsel AS Chandhiok has contended that no tender can be modified after the deadline. Additional solicitor general KK Sud and counsel Navin Chawla, appearing for the Centre, said covering letters containing assumptions and deviations did not make the offers conditional as they were in the nature of requests.