August 4, 2023
Chennai : In a significant ruling, the High Court of Judicature at Madras has directed the authorities of National Highways to consider accepting physical bank guarantees in lieu of e-bank guarantees in their future tender notifications. The court passed the order in W.P.No.20085 of 2023, filed by KCP Infra Limited against the Additional Chief Secretary to Government and the Superintending Engineer of National Highways.
Represented by KCP Infra sought a writ of Mandamus under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, requesting the court to compel the respondents to consider their representation, dated 28.04.2023, for accepting physical bank guarantees.
The petitioner contended that the onerous condition of accepting only e-bank guarantees posed difficulties as many banks did not offer such services. They argued that it hindered their ability to participate in tenders, including the ones dated 13.03.2023 and 08.06.2023.
During the hearing, Mr.C.Kathiravan, the learned Special Government Pleader, informed the court that norms had been relaxed as per Circular No.NH-24028/14/2014-H(Vol-II) (E-134863). However, the counsel for the petitioner contended that the circular was issued after the tender notification dated 08.06.2023, and thus, it did not apply to that particular tender.
Considering the situation and the fact that the tender dated 08.06.2023 had not yet closed, the court ordered the authorities to accept physical guarantees as per the circular dated 31.05.2023.
This ruling is expected to provide relief to companies like KCP Infra Ltd and may facilitate broader participation in National Highways tenders.