Decided on April 20,2007



Manmohan Sarin, J. - (1.) This appeal has been preferred by M/s Hotel Pradeep through its Managing Partner Shri Pradeep Narain Singh, assailing the judgment dated 1st December, 2006 by the learned Single Judge in WP(C) 17880-81/2006. The learned Single Judge by the said judgment dated 1st December, 2006 hereinafter referred to as the impugned judgment dismissed the above writ petition. The writ petition had sought quashing of the tender issued on 22nd November, 2006 by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd in respect of cell kitchen at Varansi Railway Station. The petitioner in the writ petition had challenged the eligibility criteria in the NIT and had also sought a direction for issuance of a fresh NIT to run cell kitchen as per the eligibility criteria as prescribed earlier and terms set out in the notice inviting applications for empanelment. The learned Single Judge in his reasoned and comprehensive judgment found that there was no illegality or procedural unreasonableness or malafide warranting interference by the court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, hence he dismissed the petition as being without merit.
(2.) The facts relevant for the purposes of disposal of this writ petition may be noticed in brief:- (i)Respondent had issued a notice inviting tender on 25th September, 2006 for license to manage cell kitchens (base kitchens) with eating facilities at different railway stations including those at Jhansi, Tundla, Kanpur, Varanasi etc. The date of sale of tender documents was extended upto 6th November, 2006 by issuance of a corrigendum dated 28.10.2006. The respondent by issuance of another corrigendum dated 7.11.2006 had extended the date of submission of tender documents upto 23rd November, 2006. The respondent on 20th November, 2006 took out another notice to the effect that tender process for license to manage cell kitchens at railway stations for which NIT was published on 25th September, 2006 and corrigendums published on 28th October, 2006 and 7th November, 2006 had been discharged. (ii) Respondent on 22nd November, 2006 issued a NIT for license to manage cell kitchens (base kitchens) with eating facility at the same places. The appellants obtained the tender documents but were aggrieved on scrutiny that changes had been effected in the eligibility criteria to ensure that appellants were no longer eligible. Appellants' case is that as per clause 8 of the NIT now issued, minimum annual turn over of Rs. 3 crores has been prescribed in the last two completed financial years. Security Deposit requirement was reduced to only Rs.1.32 lacs from Rs.8 lakhs. The clause forbidding the licensee to sub- license the cell kitchen to any other party had been substantially diluted. (iii) The appellants contend that action of the respondent is vitiated by malafides and has been designed so as to render the appellant ineligible. In this connection, it is stated that the appellant had earlier submitted their bid for setting up a food plaza at Varanasi Railway station. The technical bid of the appellant had been rejected entailing filing of WP(C) 16422/2006 where notice had been issued to the respondent and award of license to other parties was stayed. (iv) At this stage, it may be noticed that a Public Interest Litigation being WP(C) 6420/2006 and WP(C) 6421/2006 had been filed with regard to poor conditions prevailing in the pantry cars of various trains. The Court had appointed a Committee to carry out random checks and inspection of the railway kitchens and pursuant to the findings of the Committee, certain directions had been given regarding modernization and sanitization of the kitchens.
(3.) In the present appeal, the appellants contend that the learned Single Judge had wrongly concluded that changes in the eligibility criteria had been brought about on account of the said PIL.;

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