Petitioner accused KMML of not following tender norms

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday set aside the contract awarded by Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (KMML) for mining and transportation of mineral sand from Kovilthottam, near Chavara in Kollam, to TVK Constructions Company.

The Bench comprising Justice K.T. Sankaran and Justice M.L. Joseph Francis passed the order while allowing appeals filed by Ranjith Balan, a contractor and four others, against a single judge ruling.

The single judge had dismissed their writ petitions questioning the award of contract to TVK Company.

According to them, K. Radhakrishnan, an employee of the company, was the son of one of the managing partners of TVK Constructions. They pointed out that the KMML had violated its own circular issued in 2004 that relatives of employees in the KMML should not be permitted to have business dealings in the company.

The single judge had held that this norm was not applicable to the tenders invited for mining and transportation of minerals. The single judge had also observed that it was an internal communication of the company.

The petitioners pointed out that the internal auditors had suggested retendering of the contract for getting a fair rate as the firm had quoted 59.26 per cent above the existing rate. Despite the recommendation, the work was awarded to the firm.

The petitioners alleged that there were complaints that the company was awarding contracts of various works to persons of the management’s choice without following the procedure formulated by the company and guidelines of Central Vigilance Commission. The contracts were awarded in an arbitrary manner.

The Bench said it was clear that the company did not adhere to the tender conditions .The KMML was not interested in getting maximum number of bidders. They were interested only in the existing contractor.

The rate quoted by TVK was very high when compared to the rate quoted by other bidders. Therefore, the award of the contract was vitiated by mala fide.

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