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Allahabad High Court dismisses plea challenging rejection of tender for electric work in Mahakumbh 2025

The Allahabad High Court has dismissed the petition filed against the cancellation of the application of Prabhawati Electric Works for electrical work in Maha Kumbh Prayagraj-2025.

The Division Bench of Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra and Justice Syed Qamar Hasan Rizvi passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Prabhawati Electric Works.

Petitioner is aggrieved by rejection of its technical bid pursuant to e-tender floated by the respondent authority.

The Court noted that a tender has been floated by the respondent Development Authority on 1st October, 2023 for undertaking certain electrification work in Maha Kumbh-2025 at Prayagraj. The works, which have been floated in the tender, specifies the eligibility of the contractor. Only ‘A’ Approved Contractor is eligible to bid. The petitioner is non-suited on the ground that it is only ‘A’ category contractor and not ‘A’ Approved Category Contractor.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the petitioner has already been granted certification of ‘A’ category contractor by the Director of Electrical Safety, U.P Lucknow, which is the only requirement in the tender and, therefore, non-consideration of petitioner’s application is arbitrary.

The Court observed that,

The short question that arises for consideration in the facts of the case is, as to whether the contract required registration of ‘A’ approved category contractor for the work of electricity or only ‘A’ category contractor would suffice. As a sequel it is to be seen whether ‘A’ category and ‘A’ approved category are one and the same or are distinct.

From the counter affidavit filed by respondent no 5, it transpires that a notification has been issued by the Government of Uttar Pradesh on 11th May, 1967, exercising powers under Rule 45 of the Indian Electricity Rules, 1956 for execution of electrical installation works. The class of licensees in the notification are specified as ‘A’ and ‘B’, which are to be granted by the Electrical Inspector to the Government. The counter affidavit of respondents 3 & 4 would go to show that the Rules of 1956 are substituted by Central Electricity Authority (Measures Relating to Safety and Electric Supply) Regulations, 2010.

An office order has been issued on 8th April, 2022 by the Director, Electrical Safety, U.P Lucknow, exercising powers under Regulation 29, which contains provision for ‘A’ category licence holders to get their licence specifically approved by the department. Such approval can be accorded to ‘A’ category contractor in the event contractor satisfactorily undertakes works specified in Clause 2.

It is pursuant to this office order that the respondents submit that there existed specific requirement of approval of ‘A’ category contractor from the Director, Electrical Safety, U.P, and since such approval has not been obtained by the petitioner, therefore, he is ineligible to take part in the contract.

Having examined respective submissions, the Court found that though ‘A’ category contractor and ‘A’ approved category contractor sounds similar, but in view of the office order, dated 8th April, 2022, a specific distinction is made between ‘A’ category contractor and ‘A’ approved category contractor. For approval to be obtained by the ‘A’ category contractor, his work has to be assessed on the parameters, which are laid down in Clause 2. A higher standard is fixed for grant of approval to ‘A’ category contractors. The condition in the tender specifically requires only ‘A’ approved category contractor to take part in the bid. Clause 23 of the tender also specifies the fifth respondent as the authority from which such approval has to be obtained.

“Although, counsel for the petitioner states that there was no clear stipulation of approval of ‘A’ category contractor in the rules, we are not inclined to accept such a plea urged on behalf of the petitioner. In matters of safety and security of electrical installation, we would not be inclined to interfere in the matter of settlement of contract, if it is found that the respondents have insisted upon a higher level of experience for award of contract to an applicant. Ordinarily, in matters of safety and security, the Court would not like to substitute its wisdom, particularly when the exercise of power by the authority is otherwise referable to applicable provisions in law.

The order dated 8th April, 2022 clearly refers to Regulation 29 of Central Electricity Authority (Measures Relating to Safety and Electric Supply) Regulations, 2010. The competent authority for laying down the parameters in terms of Regulation 29 is the Director, Electrical Safety i.e respondent no 5. Since by his office order, respondent no 5 has specified conditions to be met for grant of a higher level of certification to the contractor, which has been insisted upon for grant of contract in the e-tender floated by the respondents, we find no good ground to interfere with such insistence on part of the respondents”, the Court further observed while dismissing the petition.

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