of Orissa & Anr Vs. M/S. Tata Iron &
Steel Co. Ltd. & Ors  Insc 130 (4 February 2008)
Arijit Pasayat & P. Sathasivam
APPEAL NO.653 OF 2006 WITH Civil Appeal No. 654 of 2006, Civil Appeal
No.655/2006, Civil Appeal No.671 of 2006, Civil Appeal No.672 of 2006 and Civil
Appeal No.673 of 2006 Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
Challenge in these appeals is to the judgment of a Division Bench of the Orissa
High Court allowing the Writ Petitions filed by Visa Industries Limited (in
short the 'VISA') and Another (Writ Petition (C) No. 5128 of 2004) and M/s. Tata
Iron and Steel Co. Ltd.(in short the 'TISCO') (Writ Petition (C) No. 6798 of
2004). By the impugned Judgment the High Court held that the technical bids of
VISA and TISCO could not have been rejected at the threshold without proper
evaluation in terms of the eligibility condition as set out in the concerned
advertisement. It was also held that Jindal Strip Limited (in short 'Jindal's')
bids were never evaluated and assessed in a dispassionate and impartial manner.
There was no attempt to find out as to which of the bids offered by the three
parties would give maximum advantage to the State in terms of public interest
and state exchequer. Certain other observations were made questioning bonafides
of the officials of the State and Industrial Development Corporation of Orissa
Limited (in short the 'IDCOL'). It was held that power of judicial review was
to be exercised as the selection of Jindal as a Joint Venture Partner for the
project in question was not properly done. Therefore the IDCOL's decision to
select Jindal cannot be maintained and was set aside.
was noted that the matter could have been remitted to IDCOL for fresh
evaluation and formation of merits on the bids of the respective parties, but
it was not thought proper. It was also noted that Jindal proposed to set up
stainless Steel Industry which could not have been considered as a relevant
factor while deciding the question of Joint Venture Partner.
IDCOL was given the opportunity to issue a fresh advertisement for the purpose
of setting out in clear terms whether it wants stainless industries to be set
up in the State or other industry where chrome could be used as an ingredient.
technical bids offered by the various parties are on record. By the last date
for receipt of offers, four parties had submitted their offers but later on Jindal
Steel Power Ltd. did not want to continue.
present appeals arise out of Special Leave Petitions filed by the State of Orissa, IDCOL and Jindal.
Primary stand of Mr. G.E. Vahanvati, Learned Solicitor General is that the High
Court's approach is clearly erroneous.
taken into account various irrelevant and extraneous materials without even any
pleading in that regard. It has assumed collusion, loss of revenue if Jindal's
bid was to be accepted. It is not fathomable as to on what basis the
conclusions were arrived at, that too without any material foundation. The
similar effect is the submission of Jindal. It is to be noted that Jindal
Steels Limited is presently known as Jindal Stainless Steel Limited. However
for the sake of convenience it shall be described as 'Jindal' in this judgment.
similar effect is the submission of learned counsel for IDCOL.
Learned counsel for TISCO and VISA submitted that the conclusions of the High
Court are in order. Considering the parameters of judicial review it is clear
that the Government granted approval in the most mechanical manner without
application of mind to the facts of the case. It was submitted that as has been
rightly held by the High Court Jindal did not satisfy the required parameters
and, therefore, its bid could not have been accepted.
of the factors highlighted by learned counsel for TISCO is that the information
brochure and the NIT referred to certain vague expressions like "Value
addition". In view of such an indefinite condition the bids submitted by
TISCO and VISA could not have been rejected at the threshold and therefore the
High Court has rightly interfered in the matter.
this juncture, it would be relevant to quote the Recommendations of the
Technical Committee constituted for evaluation of the offers received for
development of Tangarpada Chromite Deposit in Joint Venture, which reads as
OF THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE CONSTITUTED FOR EVALUATING THE OFFERS RECEIVED FOR
DEVELOPMENT OF TANGARPADA CHROMITE DEPOSIT IN JOINT VENTURE Offers for
development of Tangarpada Chromite Deposit in Joint Venture were received from
four parties namely:
Iron and Steel Co. Ltd.;
Steel and Power Ltd.; and
VISA Industries Limited Before opening of the sealed offers, Jindal Steel and
Power (one of the offer) withdrew its offer. The technical bid of the other
three parties were opened by the committee in presence of the respective
parties on 9th
December, 2002. Each
party presented their case before the Technical Committee on the same
may be stated here that certain conclusions of the High Court are clearly
indefensible. The observations relating to favoritism, so far as Jindal is
concerned, are clearly without any foundation.
the sole ground that the High Court had relied upon extraneous materials and
has arrived at unfounded conclusions, in normal course we would have set aside
the order and asked the High Court to re-consider the matter. But considering
the passage of time and more particularly the fact that the advertisement was
issued in 2002 and on the basis of materials on record, we dispose of the
appeals on the following terms:
shall be treated that the technical bids of all the three parties are valid.
financial bids were submitted about five years back it would be appropriate to
permit the parties to submit revised financial bids within three weeks.
appropriate and authorized Committee of IDCOL shall consider the technical bids
and the financial bids, keeping in view the parameters of the advertisement,
the NIT and the best interest of the State.
is needless to say the Committee examining the bids shall take note of all
relevant factors. In case it is considered appropriate and in the interest of
the State, it shall be open to the State Government to negotiate with the
parties so that the best interest of the State including generation of the
revenue of the State and overall development of the State in the relevant
fields could be achieved.
Since the matter is pending since long it would be desirable for the State
Government to ensure that the technical bids and the revised financial bids to
be submitted within three weeks as directed earlier, be evaluated and informed
decision taken by end of June, 2008. The observations and conclusions about malafides
of the officials and their alleged favoritism stand quashed.
The appeals are allowed to the aforesaid extent without any order as to costs.