Justice M Duraiswamy quashed the tender notification for the supply of 60SC dyed cotton warp yarn for production of Polycot Sarees and Polycot Dhotis under free distribution of Sarees and Dhotis Scheme Pongal 2018, primarily on two aspects.
The first is that as per provisions of the Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tenders Rules, 2000, wherever the value of procurement exceeds Rs 50 crore, the notice inviting tenders should be published in the Indian Trade Journal. Admittedly, the tender notification dated June 22, 2017 was not published in the Indian Trade Journal giving a go-by to the said mandatory provisions. The judge, on holding that since the tender notification has not been published as per the provisions of the Act, said, “On this ground alone, the notification is liable to be quashed.” Apart from this, another grievance over the tender is that the State had not provided the stipulated 30 days’ time for the submission of the tenders. In the case on hand, the notification was published in newspapers on June 22, 2017, and the last date for submission of the tenders was fixed as July 7, 2017.
Though the Advocate General appearing for the State submitted that the Department of Handlooms and Textiles, which invited the tenders had obtained written authorisation for reducing the time limit from 30 days, the judge on perusing the note dated June 19, 2017, said, “The exercise cannot be done in a mechanical way and there must also be acceptable reasons for reducing the time limit from 30 days. This should also be adhered to by the authorities, unless a superior authority gives sufficient reason for reducing the time as contemplated under Rule 20(2) of the Tender Rules.” However, the judge failed to go into the aspect of ‘Zero Liquid Discharge’ under challenge holding, “Since the tender notification is set aside, I do not find any reason to go into the merits of the plea challenging this aspect.”
The petitioners had contended that the flaws in the notification have been introduced deliberately to keep out other bidders and restrict the tenders to a few bidders favoured by the state year after year. As per the Budget announcement made by the Finance Minister for the year 2017-2018, Rs 490 crore was allocated for implementation of cost free distribution of Sarees and Dhotis Scheme.