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The Supreme Court has refused to stay the process of invitation of tenders to execute a widening project on National Highway 75.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Gwalior-Jhansi Expressway Limited (GJEL) had entered a concession agreement on December 17, 2006, for the work of widening a two-lane portion of NH-75 to four lanes in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. NHAI has complained that GJEL failed to comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement and has abandoned the work.

On October 19, 2013, a cure period notice was issued to GJEL. On February 27 and March 7, 2014, NHAI communicated its intention to issue a termination notice to GJEL.

On March 12, 2014, the apex court passed an interim order restraining NHAI from issuing the termination notice. In 2015, the interim order was continued with liberty to the parties to seek modification or revocation of the order before the arbitral tribunal.

Thereafter, NHAI filed an application before the arbitral tribunal seeking permission to complete the balance work by issuing fresh tender.

GJEL, too, filed an application wherein it pleaded that it had completed more than 78 percent of the work and its lenders had invested Rs 504 crore in the project while it had invested Rs 211 crore.

Advocate Shyam Diwan said before the top court on January 5 that the government had delayed the project by four years as it didn’t allot the land.

AG KK Venugopal said NHAI allotted over 100 contracts for making the highway. The issue is that the parties want a re-auction and the local contractor must be restricted from participating.

The bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said that the bidding process would not be stayed.

GJEL may now invite tender/bid for executing the concession agreement on construction basis. In the event the claimant matches the said lowest bid permit, the claimant must complete the balance work on the terms and conditions of the tender/bid invited on engineering procurement and construction basis except for the provision, if any, on furnishing bank guarantees.

—India Legal Bureau

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