SC to examine HC order on tender for electric buses

The Supreme Court said it will examine the Bombay High Court’s order that directed the city’s nodal transport provider Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) to re-issue a tender for electric buses.

SC to examine HC order on tender for electric buses
Supreme Court to examine the Bombay High Court’s order to re-issue a tender for electric buses.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will examine the Bombay High Court’s order that directed the city’s nodal transport provider Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) to re-issue a tender for electric buses.

The high court had termed the decision of the nodal transport provider to hold Hyderabad-based Evey Trans Pvt Ltd’s bid ‘responsive’ as “incorrect.”

Evey Trans had emerged as the successful bidder in the earlier tender process and was awarded the contract for operating 1,400 single-decker electric buses with drivers in Mumbai and its extended suburbs on a gross cost contract model for 12 years. However, Tata Motors was disqualified as its bid was found to be ‘technically non-responsive for allegedly deviating from the tender specifications. The HC had also upheld its disqualification.

A Bench led by Justice SA Nazeer, while seeking a response from BEST, Evey, and Tata Motors on the appeals by the former two, allowed Evey to ply the buses supplied to BEST so far, but said that such supply under the February tender would be subject to the final outcome of the appeals. The apex court also clarified that Evey shall not claim any equity for supplies made in case it does not succeed in the case.

While BEST has challenged the HC’s decision asking it to issue a fresh tender, Evey has filed a separate appeal against quashing the tender that was awarded to it in a “fair and transparent manner”.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, assisted by counsel Abhinav Mukherji, appearing for Evey, argued that the HC failed to apply the principle of just and equity in evaluating a clerical error and which was promptly acted upon and rectified. BEST had accepted Evey’s offer on the representation that it would deliver buses that would be running 200 km in a single charge with not more then 80 per cent battery being consumed, they said.

Stating that it was nobody’s case that Evey was incapable of meeting the BEST’s requirements, the petition added that Tata’s bid had evidently deviated from the terms of the tender and had explicitly and admittedly not conformed to the tender requirements.

Alleging irregularities in the earlier tender process, senior counsel AM Singhvi, appearing for Tata Motors,  said that the company’s technical bid was arbitrarily rejected by BEST, and Evey was given an unfair favour as certain norms were selectively relaxed and waived. He argued that its bid was in conformity with the tender conditions.

BEST supported EVEY by stating that its bid was compliant in all respects and there was no deviation in the bid. Besides, the disqualified bidder has no locus to challenge awarding of the tender to the successful bidder, the counsel argued, adding that the arguments of discrimination or favouritism does not merit any consideration.

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