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SC grants relief to Adani Ports on bidding process

Mumbai: The Supreme Court on Monday said Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone’s disqualification from the Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) cannot be treated as the basis for company’s ineligibility to participate in future tenders. The apex court has asked Adani Ports to withdraw its petition which has been agreed upon by the company.

Adani Ports had in June moved the Bombay High Court challenging the Board of Trustees of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) for disqualifying its bid to upgrade a container terminal in Navi Mumbai.

Essentially, JNPT had disqualified Adani Ports’ bid on the basis on an impending dispute between Adani Vizag Coal Terminal Pvt Ltd (AVCTPL) and Vishakaptanam Port Trust.

The company had sought to declare its disqualification under the tender as illegal, and wrongful and revoke its disqualification with regards to the tender.

The Bombay High Court, however, did not give a verdict in Adani Ports favour due to which it then moved the Supreme Court to seek relief.

Adani Ports, in its petition, said Adani Vizag, an associate firm of Adani was in a contractual tie-up with Vishakhapatnam Port Trust since 2011. During the pandemic, AVCTPL had intended termination of the concession agreement by invoking the force majeure clause. Vizag Port however did not agree, and thereafter Adani Vizag terminated the concession agreement on 21 October 2020 which was to be effective 19 January 2021.

On 30 November 2020, the disputes and differences between AVCTPL and VPT were referred to arbitration by AVCTPL. It is alleged in the writ petition that as a counter, VPT by a notice dated 26 December 2020 had terminated the concession agreement with AVCTPL to be effective after 90 days.

The reason assigned for the said termination was an alleged failure of Adani Vizag to achieve the minimum guaranteed cargo for three years between 24 October 2016 and 23 October 2019.

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