Case: – Ghulam Qadir Bhat and another v/s U.T of J&K and others; WP(C) No. 2108/2022
In the above-mentioned case filed before the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir sheds light on the legal intricacies surrounding tender cancellations and the rights of bidders in such scenarios. The petitioners, challenged the cancellation of e-NITs for the supply of Livestock (Sheep/Goat) by the respondent.
The Chairman of the State Level Purchase Committee issued e-NITs in June 2022, inviting tenders for the establishment of units under the Integrated Sheep Development Scheme. The petitioners, having participated in the tendering process and declared as L-1, faced delays in the finalization of the process, prompting them to approach the court through a writ petition. The court, in an earlier order, directed the respondents to conclude the tendering process, subject to certain conditions.
The petitioners contested the subsequent cancellation of e-NITs through office order dated 20.08.2022, alleging a violation of the court’s previous directive. They asserted a legitimate expectation of allotment, having made preparations based on being declared L-1. The respondents, on the other hand, justified the cancellation citing technical issues and a re-evaluation of the procurement strategy based on the availability and quality of livestock in neighbouring states.
The High Court, in her judgment, emphasized that the tender is an invitation to offer, and no enforceable right is created until a contract comes into existence. The court highlighted that the respondents had the right to cancel the tender before the acceptance stage. The judgment cited precedents emphasizing the circumspect scope of judicial review in contractual matters and recognized the government’s right to protect financial interests.
The judgment reinforces the principle that participating in a tender process does not confer an absolute right on the bidder, and the government retains the discretion to cancel tenders in public interest. It establishes that the legitimate expectations of the petitioners were not legally binding, as no concluded contract existed. The case also underscores the court’s reluctance to interfere in administrative decisions related to commercial transactions, particularly in the absence of mala fide intentions.
The legal implications of tender cancellations, as elucidated in the judgment in the above cited case, highlight the delicate balance between protecting the government’s interests and addressing the expectations of bidders. The decision emphasizes the importance of adhering to procurement policies while acknowledging the discretionary powers of administrative authorities.
Author of this article:
Adv. Ravish Bhatt,
Partner, R&D Law Chambers,
Dual Qualified Lawyer Solicitor | International Tax Affiliate
Connect with Mr. Bhatt on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adit-ravishbhatt/
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