The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Government's decision to award contracts for modernization of Delhi and Mumbai Airports to consortia led by GMR and GVK respectively, saying it was in public interest.
A Bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice SH Kapadia dismissed an appeal by
Anil Ambani-led Reliance Airports Developers which had challenged a Delhi High verdict upholding the contracts given to its rivals GMR and GVK.
The order has finally settled the dispute over the modernisation of the Delhi and Mumbai airports.
Dismissing the Reliance's appeal against the April 21 order of the High Court, the Bench said there was no merit in it.
Reliance Airport Developers, which had also bid for the two airports, was aggrieved by the High Court's finding that the government's action was in no way discriminatory, illogical or illegal.
Upholding the Technical parameters adopted for awarding of contracts, the HC had said that the Government and the Airport Authority of India had "absolute discretion to vary the tender requirements or amend the term of Request for Proposal" as per the requirement of the project.
Justice Kapadia, who concurring with Pasayat, however, criticized the evaluation committee for having altered the scoring norms saying it had no business to expand or narrow down the scoring pattern for evaluation of the bids.
The Bench said that experience in property development is different from the experience in infrastructure development.
It disapproved of the Reliance firm's conduct during the bidding process for having written letters to the authorities. It also rejected the objection of Reliance to the constitution of group of eminent technical experts observing it was only aimed at getting different viewpoints and to ensure transparency.
The Bench said the GETE went by objective standards and the criterion adopted by it appeared to be rational.
In its petition, Reliance has contended that the government and the AAI deliberately amended the tender norms to favour GMR and GVK-led consortia. It had also questioned the option given to GMR for picking an airport of its choice (Delhi) for modernization after opening of the financial bid and has alleged that the lowering of the benchmark from 80 to 50 per cent was totally arbitrary.
Rejecting the charges leveled by Reliance, the Government, GMR and GVK have been maintaining that the process for awarding the contract was fair and transparent and there was no favouristism of any kind.