SC refuses to stay Adani’s disqualification from JNPA bid

Senior counsel A M Singhvi, appearing for Adani Ports, asked the apex court to settle principles of law that will rise in similar cases and also avoid any future disqualification.

SC refuses to stay Adani’s disqualification from JNPA bid
A Bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana said it will decide the matter later this month.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to stay the Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone’s disqualification of its bid for maintenance and upgradation of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) container terminal in Navi Mumbai but sought a response from the Board of Trustees, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority and others.

A Bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana said it will decide the matter later this month.

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Senior counsel A M Singhvi, appearing for Adani Ports, asked the apex court to settle principles of law that will rise in similar cases and also avoid any future disqualification.

He had earlier told the court that the bids for the project were opened in June and the company was not challenging the results of the bidding, but its disqualification has to be quashed so that it does not face a similar situation in future.

The Bombay High Court had in June while rejecting the Adani Ports’ plea against its disqualification as non-meritorious also imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh for filing a case that lacked merit.

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JNPA had on May 2 written to Adani Ports that it was disqualified from participating in further stages of the subject tender process for upgradation, operation, maintenance and transfer of its container terminal for 30 years through Public Private Partnership. Adani Ports was disqualified as it had not revealed about termination of the concessionaire agreement between Adani Vizag Coal Terminal and Vishakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) in 2020.

However, Adani Ports in its appeal before the apex court stated that its disqualification based on the VPT’s termination of the Adani Vizag Concession Agreement is erroneous because it was Adani Vizag that first terminated the contract with VPT due to force majeure. Subsequently, VPT terminated the contract purportedly on December 26, 2020, and hence VPT Termination is effective “no termination and invalid,” it added.

According to the petition, JNPT was fully apprised and made aware of the pendency of the arbitration proceedings between VPT and Adani Vizag and the Vizag disqualification for “non-disclosure” cannot be applied to the present case as the JNPA order nowhere identified non-disclosure as the grounds for disqualification.

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