The Bombay High Court today dismissed a plea filed by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone challenging the disqualification of its bid in a tender issued by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) for upgradation of a container terminal in Navi Mumbai.

A Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik dismissed Adani's plea saying there was "no merit" in its contentions. The Bench also directed Adani to pay a cost of Rs 5 lakh for bringing to court an "unmeritorious case." Of this, Adani had already deposited Rs 4,24,800 with JNPA at the time of submitting its bid. The court asked the JNPA to retain the amount and directed Adani to deposit the remaining amount.

Senior Advocates Ravi Kadam and Vikram Nankani appeared for the Petitioner while Senior Advocate Venkatesh Dhond appeared for the Respondent.

Adani was disqualified by the JNPA from a tender process to privatize the port authority's container handling facility on May 3.

As per JNPA, the terms and conditions in its tender document said any firm involved in contract termination at other ports will be prohibited from participating in the terminal privatization bidding process.

In December 2020, a coal handling terminal at the Visakhapatnam Port Authority that was operated by a unit of Adani was terminated. Adani group, however, claimed in its plea that its disqualification was illegal.

The High Court said that it had gone through the details of the petition and JNPA's arguments and concluded JNPA had not committed any illegality.

"Far from committing any illegality, JNPA instead gave a fair opportunity to the petitioner (Adani) to bring the dispute (Vishakhapatnam port authority episode) to fore," the High Court said.

It said that in cases related to tenders, the court could only intervene if a glaring illegality or a breach of a constitutional right had been committed. In the present case, however, there was no illegality involved and JNPT was right in disqualifying Adani, the HC held.

"In fact, JNPA was left with no other alternative but to disqualify the petitioner (Adani) from participating in the further process of the tender. In so disqualifying, the JNPT did not act illegally or irrationally or contrary to any procedure warranting judicial intervention," the High Court said while dismissing the plea.

Click here to read/download Judgment

With PTI inputs