w w w . L a w y e r S e r v i c e s . i n

Arunachalam Hotels Pvt. Ltd. v/s Tirumala Tirupathi Devastanams

    Writ Petition No. 15857 of 2021

    Decided On, 13 August 2021

    At, High Court of Andhra Pradesh


    For the Appearing Parties: V.R. Machavaram, A. Sumanth, Advocates.

Judgment Text

The respondent had floated the tender for grant of licence/leasehold rights for running seven canteens at Tirumala Hills bearing File No.TTD 81021(31)/3/2021-REV TML-TTD dated 08.07.2021. One of the canteens was 'Sapthagiri Big canteen'. The petitioner had participated in the tender for this canteen and offered a sum of Rs.8,09,100/- as the annual licence fee. This offer was the highest bid received for the said tender. However, the respondent instead of calling the petitioner to either award the tender or for negotiations, has chosen to issue re-notification/tender in File No.TTD 81021(31)/3/2021- REV TML-TTD dated 08.07.2021, which was published in the newspaper on 22.07.2021 calling for bids for the very same Sapthagiri Big canteen and two other canteens.

2. Aggrieved by the said re-notification, the petitioner has now approached this Court.

3. Sri V.R.Machavaram, learned counsel for the petitioner would submit that the respondent could not have cancelled the earlier tender and issued re-notification when the petitioner was willing to negotiate with the respondent. Further, the ostensible reason given by the respondent that the bid was lower than the earlier licence fee, could not stand in view of the conduct of the respondent in various other cases where bids offering lower licence fee than the licence fee paid in the earlier years had been accepted by the respondent. He points out to the cases where the tender for the leasehold rights of the canteens on an annual rent of Rs.12.5 lakhs was accepted when the earlier licence of Rs.17.5 lakhs. Similarly in the case Sri Venkateswara canteen, offer of Rs.13 lakhs was accepted when the earlier licence was Rs.23 lakhs and in the case of M/s.Shri Devi Caterers, offer was Rs.12 lakhs was accepted when the earlier licence fee of Rs.15.5 lakhs. He submits that even in the present tender notification, an offer of Rs.10,36,000/- was accepted against the earlier fee of Rs.12,06,000/- in the case of Padmavathi Big canteen.

4. The learned counsel for the petitioner would submit that in view of the past conduct of the respondent, refusal to accept the bid of the petitioner is clearly arbitrary and violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India as similarly placed persons are treated differently.

5. Sri A.Sumanth, learned standing counsel for the respondent has submitted written instructions and has also made his oral submissions.

6. He submits that a tender was made out for seven canteens, out of which, the bids offered in the case of two canteens was higher than the earlier licence fee. In the case of one canteen, there is no earlier licence fee, as the licence is being offered for the first time, as it is a new canteen. In the case of three canteens, the bids were far lower than the earlier licence fee and the bids for these three canteens were not accepted and a re-notification was issued for auction of these licence rights. The Sapthagiri Big canteen, for which, the petitioner had submitted his bid is one of these three canteens.

7. Sri A.Sumanth, learned standing counsel for the respondent would submit that in the case of Padmavathi Big canteen, the earlier licence fee was Rs.12,06,000/- as opposed to the bid of Rs.10,37,000/- made under the tender notification of 10.02.2021. He submits that the lower bid was accepted in view of the peculiar conditions in the area and keeping in view the presence of various private stalls etc., and the lack of access to this area except to pedestrians was another reason for accepting lower rate. He submits that as far as Sapthagiri Big canteen is concerned, the earlier licence fee was Rs.15,66,999/- where as the petitioner has offered a bid of Rs.8,09,100/- which is 48.36% of the previous licence fee amount. In the circumstances, the respondent took the decision to retender this canteen along with the other two canteens where the bids offered for those canteens had been rejected.

8. Sri A.Sumanth, learned standing counsel for the respondent further submits that clause 10 of the tender conditions clearly stipulates that the respondents retains the right to cancel the tender and take up retendering without assigning any reasons and the petitioner having participated in the tender proceedings cannot come before this Court and claim that the respondent cannot terminate or cancel the tender process.

9. Having heard both sides, it is clear that the respondents had rejected the bid of the petitioner on the ground that the offer made by the petitioner is far below the earlier fee collected for the same canteen. This decision of the respondent cannot be treated as an arbitrary decision made without any basis.

10. As far as the contention of V.R.Machavaram, learned counsel for the petitioner that the respondent, by past conduct, had precluded himself from rejecting the bid of the petitioner is concerned, the same cannot

Please Login To View The Full Judgment!

be accepted. It cannot be said that the acceptance of a lower bid in earlier cases would place the respondent in a strait jacket and would not leave any discretion to the respondent to reject such bids. 11. In these circumstances, there are no merits in this writ petition and accordingly, dismissed leaving it open to the respondent to complete the retendering process in which, the petitioner can also participate. There shall be no order as to costs. 12. As a sequel, pending miscellaneous petitions, if any, shall stand closed.