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Southern States - Tamil Nadu-Chennai Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Court will not vacate stay on tender for desalination plant

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI DEC. 16 . The Madras High Court yesterday declined to vacate a stay restraining the Metrowater Board from finalising its re-tender for the Rs. 1,750-crore Minjur seawater desalination plant. Justice D. Murugesan, making his September 29 order of stay absolute and dismissing a plea for vacating the stay, filed by the Board, said: "This court cannot overlook the fact that in the event of the interim order being vacated and the Metrowater Board being allowed to confirm the bid received pursuant to the re-tender notice, third party interest will also come in. In the circumstances, I am inclined to make the interim order of stay in respect of the confirmation of the tender absolute."

He then posted the matter for January 19 in view of the urgency of establishing the desalination plant to tide over water scarcity. Restricting the scope of the petition to the State's failure to constitute a Tender Scrutiny Committee as envisaged in the law, the judge said, "Though the opening of the tender can be made by the Tender Accepting Authority or the officer authorised by such an Authority, it shall be done under the supervision of the Tender Scrutiny Committee."

He declined to accept the Advocate-General, N.R. Chandran's contention that the Board was entitled to open the bid security and technical bid envelops in the presence of bidders or their representatives.

In the light of the relevant Act and rules, the appointment of the Tender Inviting Authority and the Tender Accepting Authority as well as the Tender Scrutiny Committee was necessary "to eliminate irregularities, interference and corrupt practices and also to provide transparency in tender process," Mr. Justice Murugesan said.

The appointment assumed importance to promote the integrity of the process of tenders and the fairness and public confidence in tender processing to ensure transparency. "So the failure on the part of the Board to constitute the Tender Scrutiny Committee in accordance with the relevant rules cannot be lightly viewed. Hence, I find a prima facie case made out by the petitioner for the continuance of the interim order of stay." The judge recorded the specific allegations of demand of an illegal financial consideration on behalf of the Managing Director and other Board Directors, made by the petitioner-company, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre, represented by First Planet Engineering.

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