SC sets aside MP HC order on grant of tender for flyover project

The Supreme Court Tuesday set aside a Madhya Pradesh High Court’s order asking the state government to grant tender for a 7.4 kilometer-long flyover project at Indore to Uttar Pradesh State Bridge Corporation Ltd (UPSBCL), saying it suppressed “most material fact” of lodging of an FIR against it in the 2018 Varanasi bridge collapse case.
An FIR was lodged in 2018 against UPSBCL in respect of the collapse of a bridge constructed by it at Janpad, Varanasi. As many as 15 persons had died in the incident and 11 others had received injuries. Presently, the trial is stayed by the Allahabad High Court in the case after filing of the charge sheet.
The pendency of the criminal case and its “suppression” in the tender document by the UPSBCL while bidding for the project of the elevated corridor at Indore was taken note of by the apex court which set aside the high court’s decision of asking the Madhya Pradesh authorities to issue the letter of intent (LoI)to the UP corporation.
“A technical objection based on the rejection order cannot be allowed to prevail in the face of the suppression of the most material fact, that is of an FIR pertaining to the construction of a bridge by UPSBC, which has collapsed,” a bench of Justices R F Nariman and K M Joseph said.
A notice inviting tender (NIT) dated December 2, 2019 by Madhya Pradesh’s Public Works Department for construction of an elevated corridor of a length of 7.473 kilometers from LIG Square to Navlakha Square in Indore district was issued.
The estimated cost for the project was Rs. 272.66 crores and it was to be completed within a period of 24 months.
Eleven companies including UPSBCL bid for the project and the Madhya Pradesh government rejected its bid on the ground that the bidder suppressed information under one of its clauses.
The high court, taking note of the plea of UPSBCL, held that as on the date of submission of the technical bid, there was no investigation pending and hence there was no suppression of facts by it.
The high court also took note of the fact that UPSBC had bid for a sum of Rs 306.27 crores which was Rs nine crore less than the other bidder and ordered that the tender be given to UPSBCL,
Setting aside the HC judgement, the apex court said, “clearly in the facts of the present case, though the investigation is no longer pending and though there is no conviction by a court of law, UPSBC has certainly been ”indicted”, in that, a charge sheet has been filed against it relatable to the FIR … in which a trial is pending, though stayed by the High Court.”
“On the facts of the present case, we have seen as to how UPSBC has indulged in a fraudulent practice and has suppressed the fact that it was indicted for offences relatable to the construction of a bridge by it, which had collapsed,” it said.
The bench also directed the state government to issue LoI for the project to M/s Rajkamal Builders Infrastructure Pvt after its counsel undertook to match the financial bid of the UPSBCL which now stands disqualified.
“Given the lapse of time taken in court proceedings, the State of Madhya Pradesh is directed to issue a LOI as soon as is practically possible to Rajkamal insofar as the present tender is concerned at the same financial bid as that of UPSBC. All the appeals are disposed of accordingly,” the bench said.