M/S. GALAXY TRANSPORT AGENCIES, CONTRACTORS, TRADERS, TRANSPORTS AND SUPPLIERS Vs. M/S. NEW J.K. ROADWAYS, FLEET OWNERS AND TRANSPORT CONTRACTORS AND OTHERS
LAWS(SC)-2020-12-49
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on December 18,2020

M/S. Galaxy Transport Agencies, Contractors, Traders, Transports And Suppliers Appellant
VERSUS
M/S. New J.K. Roadways, Fleet Owners And Transport Contractors And Others Respondents


Referred Judgements :-

SILPPI CONSTRUCTIONS CONTRACTORS V. UNION OF INDIA [REFERRED TO]
BHARAT COKING COAL LTD. VS. AMR DEV PRABHA [REFERRED TO]
JAGDISH MANDAL VS. STATE OF ORISSA [REFERRED TO]
AFCONS INFRASTRUCTURE LTD. VS. NAGPUR METRO RAIL CORPORATION LTD. & ANR. [REFERRED TO]
MONTECARLO LTD. VS. NTPC LTD. [REFERRED TO]


JUDGEMENT

R.F.NARIMAN.J. - (1.)Leave granted.
(2.)In this appeal, the Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, Zonal Police HQR's Kashmir, Srinagar ["ZPHS"], being Respondent No. 4 before us, invited online tenders (e-tenders) vide e-N.I.T. No. 01 of 2020 dated 18.02.2020 ["N.I.T."] from reputed transporters, registered firms/associations for the supply of various types of commercial vehicles (without fuel) for the carriage of troops and equipment for the Financial Year 2020-2021. Pursuant to the N.I.T., 4 parties, namely, M/s Associated Contractors; M/s Quareshi Transport Co.; M/s Galaxy Transport Agencies, Contractors, Traders, Transports and Suppliers ["Appellant"]; and M/s New J.K. Roadways, Fleet Owners and Transport Contractors ["JK Roadways"] submitted their bids for consideration and the same were uploaded through an e-tendering system. The tender process consisted of a technical bid and a financial bid. The Tender Opening Committee met on 11.03.2020 and found that JK Roadways, Respondent No. 1 herein, and Associated Contractors did not meet the qualifying requirements of the technical bid, leaving Quareshi Transport Co. and the Appellant, who were considered technically eligible for the allotment of the contract. The Appellant's financial bid being the lowest, vide an order dated 30.03.2020, the Appellant was allotted the contract for the supply of commercial vehicles for the Financial Year 2020-2021.
(3.)A writ petition was filed by JK Roadways seeking the quashing of the allotment of the contract in favour of the Appellant. Before the learned Single Judge of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir at Srinagar ["Single Judge"], three contentions qua the Appellant's technical eligibility were made by JK Roadways, which were decided in the following manner, by a judgment dated 30.06.2020:
3a. Firstly, the learned Single Judge found that though the service licence of the Appellant was only valid upto 31.03.2020, it had sought an extension of its service licence prior to its expiry. Since a lockdown was imposed on account of the outbreak of COVID-19, a General Order dated 30.03.2020 ["General Order"] was issued, through which the validity of all documents relating to transportation services were deemed to be extended till 30.06.2020. This being the case, this contention was decided against JK Roadways, and it was held that the Appellant fulfilled the eligibility condition of holding a valid service licence.

3b. Secondly, it was found that the Appellant did in fact own 30 vehicles including heavy motor vehicles ["HMV"] and light motor vehicles ["LMV"], as a list of 36 vehicles was furnished to ZPHS, the tendering authority. Since a complaint in this regard had been made by the unsuccessful bidders, the same was forwarded to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar ["SSP"] to ascertain the veracity of the documents furnished. The SSP submitted a report finding that though 5 vehicles were found to be owned by individuals other than the Appellant, 31 vehicles were still owned by the Appellant, as a result of which the eligibility condition was satisfied. It was also found that insofar as 1 vehicle was concerned, it was indeed owned by the Appellant as there existed a typographical error in the registration number of the vehicle.

3c.Thirdly, as far as the eligibility criteria of having work experience of at least 5 years, not being less than Rs. 2 crores was concerned, the learned Single Judge found that work experience certificates from 2014 to 2018 were submitted and since the tendering authority was the best judge as to whether such eligibility condition had in fact been satisfied, a judicial hands-off was mandated.

3d. Finally, the learned Single Judge concluded:

"16. Considering the submissions of the parties and in view of the law laid down by the Supreme Court and also the fact that the contract is for the year 2020-21, which has already commenced w.e.f. 1st April, 2020, public interest would be severely jeopardized if the respondents are not allowed to execute the contract because the bid of respondent No. 5 was the lowest. It is, therefore, in public interest not to interfere in the allotment of contract in favour of respondent No. 5, who satisfied the criteria as laid down in technical bid as he had furnished list of HMV and LMV vehicles which was the most essential condition of the tender. Thus, the petitioner having been found ineligible cannot now question allotment of contract to respondent No. 5 because the petitioner is not similarly situated."

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