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Court clears the decks for BharatNet Project in TN

With the dismissal of an appeal by Tamil Nadu Fibrenet Corporation (Tanfinet) regarding the rejection of the technical bid of Pace Digitek for Package B, the Madras High Court has cleared the decks for BharatNet Project in Tamil Nadu.

The First Bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy recently dismissed the appeal filed by Tanfinet against a single judge’s order ruling against the rejection of the technical bid.

“We do not find any ground to cause interference with the order passed by the single judge.” the bench said. Package-B covers the stretch of Cuddalore, Ariyalur, Perambalur, Dharmapuri, Kallakurichi, Salem, Erode, and The Nilgiris.

A consortium of companies was successful in the bid with Pace Digitek as the leading bidder. Tanfinet, however, rejected Pace Digitek’s technical bid on two major grounds: Discrepancies in the date of agreement of the consortium and the date of stamps purchased, and the earnest money deposit (EMD) furnished by a company other than the lead bidder (Pace Digitek). Challenging it, the firm approached the high court.

Justice Abdul Quddhose ruled in favour of Pace Digitek. Appealing against this order, Tanfinet filed the writ appeal. Advocate General R Shunmugasundaram represented Tanfinet while senior counsel ARL Sundaresan, assisted by a team of lawyers, appeared for Pace Digitek.

Referring to the Instructions to Bidders, the bench said it does not mandate the EMD to be furnished by the lead bidder. “…accordingly, the single judge rightly recorded his opinion that in the absence of any condition in the agreement to furnish EMD by the lead bidder, the rejection of the bid could not be accepted,” the bench said.

On the issue of the agreement date being November 6, 2020, and the date of purchase of stamps being November 10, 2020, the court found that the signature of the member of the consortium to be on November 10, 2020, apart from the date of their notarisation being on the same date. A mere mistake in the date could not have taken as a ground to reject the bid of the non-appellants, it noted. New Indian Express

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