The Karnataka High Court on Friday dismissed the public interest litigation petition challenging the tenders invited by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahananagara Palike (BBMP) for pre-qualification of contractors to carry out infrastructure projects to the tune of thousands of crores in the absence of an elected body.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice Manjula Chellur found no infirmity in the deliberations carried out by the BBMP up to the stage of pre-qualification of bidders while dismissing the petition filed by Congress leaders P.R. Ramesh and M. Ramachandrappa, both former mayors.
The petitioners, alleging extraneous considerations in the absence of an elected body, had challenged the pre-qualification of bidders for infrastructure projects to the tune of Rs. 13,000 crore by the BBMP in September-October 2009.
This tender process was termed “midnight tender” by the Congress and other political partiers as BBMP officials feverishly worked on them well into the night as the model code of conduct for BBMP elections was nearing.
What the court said
However, the court said that “merely because certain orders came to be passed by this court, finding fault with the State Election Commission and the State Government, in not holding elections to the BBMP cannot be the basis of inferences in the nature of extraneous consideration, mala fides or arbitrariness”.
It pointed out that the process, which is the subject matter of challenge, is the “first stage”.
And the important stages was when tenders for specified works are invited, whereupon contracts would be awarded, was still to commence.
“Thus viewed, it would not be incorrect to conclude that the respondents (BBMP) themselves, of their free will did not allow the matter to proceed into the important stage, wherein contracts for execution of works would be awarded, and actual financial implications would emerge,” the Court observed while adding “it is therefore not possible for us to hold that a valid challenge can be raised on behalf of the petitioners on pleas of the nature of extraneous consideration, oblique motive, mala fides or arbitrariness.”
The court said the petitioners cannot allege “extraneous consideration” as they had summarily spurned BBMP's offer to place the entire matter for reconsideration before the newly elected 198 councillors for their approval and ratification.