10 June 2024


Judgments

High Court of Gauhati

Kukil Das Vs. The State of Assam and Ors.

MANU/GH/0667/2019

05.09.2019

Commercial

Authorities have to obtain prior approval from Government in case the order of settlement is not issued to highest tenderer

The order of settlement of the Sulung Daily Market under the Pachim Kaliabor Anchalik Panchayat in the district of Nagaon, issued in favour of the respondent No. 8 is under challenge in the present writ petition. The grievance expressed in this writ petition pertains to the manner in which the bids were evaluated by the respondents leading to issuance of the order of settlement dated 31st July, 2019 in favour of the Respondent No. 8 who was the lowest bidder.

The Petitioner, submits that the tender of the Respondent No. 8, besides being technically defective, was also the lowest bid and therefore, in view of the specific provision of Rule 47(10) of the Assam Panchayat (Financial) Rules, 2002, the Respondents did not have the authority or jurisdiction to issue the order of settlement in favour of the Respondent No. 8 without obtaining prior approval of the Government.

There is no dispute about the fact that, amongst the 18 tenderers who had submitted their bids in response to the NIT dated 01.06.2019 for settlement of Sulung Daily Market, the Respondent No. 8 was the lowest bidder. The highest bidder had quoted Rs. 35,80,082.00 per annum, whereas the writ Petitioner had quoted Rs. 13,84,845.00 per annum. There is also no dispute in this case about the fact that the only ground on which the order of settlement was awarded in favour of the Respondent No. 8 at the lowest price was on account of the fact that the higher rates quoted by the other tenderers were found to be exorbitant. However, it is significant to note herein that, there is no clause in the NIT which even remotely indicates that such a criterion would be employed while evaluating the bids.

In the present case, no such criteria regarding exorbitant price was laid down in the NIT. Therefore, it is clear that after opening the bids the Respondents have devised an additional/undisclosed criterion to reject higher bids. Rule 47(10) of the Assam Panchayat (Financial) Rules, 2002, provides that, the tender of highest bidder shall be accepted. Acceptance of tender other than the highest bid shall require the "Government" prior and formal approval."

From a plain reading of Rule 47(10) of the Rules, 2002, it is clear that the authorities would have to obtain prior approval from the Government in case the order of settlement is not issued to the highest tenderer. In the instant case, the Respondent No. 8 is not the highest bidder and there are other tenderers who have quoted higher price than the Petitioner. The bids of such tenderers were also found to be technically responsive. As such, there was no scope for the Respondent No. 4 to issue the order of settlement in favour of the respondent No. 8 without obtaining the prior approval of the Government.

The impugned order has not only been issued in violation of the principles of fairness as enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution of India but the same also contravenes the provision of Rule 47(10) of the Rules, 2002. As such, the impugned order of settlement dated 31.07.2019 stands set aside. As the process of evaluation of the bids have been held to be erroneous by this Court, the Respondent authorities are directed to re-evaluate the bids based on the criteria laid down in the NIT and issue a fresh order of settlement to the successful bidder. Writ petition disposed off.

Tags : Evaluation Bids Legality

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