Jharkhand High Court

Jharkhand High Court: In a writ petition regarding Tender Committee’s decision on supply of PICU equipment for supply of Defibrillators to the extent of rejection of Technical Bid of the Petitioner, stating the other Bid lacking technical specification, the Division Bench of Rongon Mukhopadhyay and Deepak Roshan, JJ. refused to interfere with the decision of the Expert Committee, finding nothing arbitrary or unreasonable.

Factual Background

The petitioner was a company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 and the main respondent being a state entity 100% financed by the State of Jharkhand. The State entity published a tender on 20-06-2023 for the supply of PICU Equipment wherein, several PICU equipment was required to be supplied. The bidders had to submit their bids for the specific items to be supplied under the tender document.

The instant writ pertaining to supply of Defibrillators for which, the tender specified that the Defibrillators to be supplied should be having accessories, spare parts, consumables being ‘3 nos. of Reusable CPR feedback Sensor’. The petitioner submitted its bid and proposed Defibrillators of model ‘Mediana D700’, and there were two other bidders as well. After submission of bids, the three bidders were invited for a demonstration of their quoted products before the Expert Committee for verification of Technical Specifications. While the petitioner demonstrated its product ‘Mediana Defibrillator D700’, another respondent-bidder had ‘Zoll Defibrillator R-series’, and the demonstration was completed on 17-11-2023. Since petitioner pointed out that the Defibrillators intended to be supplied by respondent-bidder was not as per the technical specification, the exercise of demonstration was fixed again on 1-12-2023 and filed a representation to bring in notice the failure on part of respondent-bidder to meet the technical specification as indicated in the tender document and demonstrated the capability of its Defibrillator which it intended to supply.

It was claimed that despite the petitioner being a worldwide leader in Defibrillators, its technical bid was rejected, declared non-compliant, but that of respondent-bidder was accepted. The petitioner approached the High Court through a writ which was withdrawn on 24-01-2024 on submission regarding re-evaluating the rejection of the technical Bid of the petitioner. The authorities on 30-01-2024 issued a notice for decision of the Tender Committee disqualifying the petitioner’s bid and informing qualification of the respondent bidder’s bid. Thus, the petitioner again approached the High Court through the instant writ petition.

Court’s Analysis

The Court explained that “A Defibrillator is medical equipment which provides electric shock to the heart to allow it to get out of the potentially abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia, ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation and back to a normal rhythm and, therefore, its importance as a lifesaving device.” The Defibrillators to be supplied should be integrated equipment being procured for pediatrics and neonatal patients, a background for consideration of ‘Mediana D700’ Defibrillator and Zoll R-series Defibrillators by the Expert Committee. Its conclusion reflected that none of the specifications of Tender Document could be met by Mediana Defibrillator, a fact which led to disqualification of the petitioner’s bid.

The Court referred to State of Kerala v. RDS Project Ltd., (2020) 9 SCC 108 and Agmatel India (P) Ltd. v. Resoursys Telecom, (2022) 5 SCC 362 and supported the Expert Committee’s decision based on presentation and evidence produced by, comprising of persons having expertise in the field, whose findings could not be interfered with when appropriate reasons were furnished by the Committee while concluding about eligibility/ineligibility of the Bidders. It further explained that the “Mere pricing of a product cannot be the sole criteria for declaring a Bidder successful as quality of the product, while meeting the specifications as per the Tender Documents would be the predominant features governing such selection” and cited Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. v. AMR Dev Prabha, (2020) 16 SCC 759 in this regard.

The Court further cited Tata Motors Ltd. v. Brihan Mumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (BEST), 2023 SCC OnLine SC 671 which considered the question of whether a bidder who was technically no qualified could challenge the award of a Tender to another Bidder. The Court hinted towards its limited scope of entering into the arena of judicial review in a contractual matter and the decision-making process unless the process was flawed and peppered with arbitrariness and unreasonable.

Pointing towards the reasoned disqualification of the petitioner’s bid on technical grounds, the Court did not find the decision arbitrary or unreasonable, held the said decision in tune with the fundamental necessities and therefore dismissed the writ petition.

[Hosco Pvt. Ltd. v. Jharkhand Medical & Health Infrastructure Development & Procurement Corporation Ltd., 2024 SCC OnLine Jhar 251, decided on 27-02-2024]

Judgment by: Justice Rongon Mukhopadhyay

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioner: Advocate Sumeet Gadodia, Advocate Shilpi Sandil Gadodia, Advocate Shruti Shekhar, Advocate Nillohit Choubey, Advocate Ritesh Kumar Gupta

For Respondents: AC to AG Piyush Chitresh, Senior Advocate M.S. Mittal, Advocate Salona Mittal, Advocate Ishika Tulsyan, Advocate Lavanya Gadodia Mittal

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