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Rakhi
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<h2>The judicial review in contractual matters has its own limitations</h2>
In Uflex Ltd. v. Government of T.N., (2022) 1 SCC 165 Apex Court stated that the enlarged role of the Government in economic activity and its corresponding ability to give economic “largesse” was the bedrock of creating what is commonly called the “tender jurisdiction”. The objective was to have greater transparency and the consequent right of an aggrieved party to invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India beyond the issue of strict enforcement of contractual rights under the civil jurisdiction. However, the ground reality today is that almost no tender remains unchallenged. Unsuccessful parties or parties not even participating in the tender seek to invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. The Court held as under:-

“2. The judicial review of such contractual matters has its own limitations. It is in this context of judicial review of administrative actions that this Court has opined that it is intended to prevent arbitrariness, irrationality, unreasonableness, bias and mala fides. The purpose is to check whether the choice of decision is made lawfully and not to check whether the choice of decision is sound. In evaluating tenders and awarding contracts, the parties are to be governed by principles of commercial prudence. To that extent, principles of equity and natural justice have to stay at a distance. [Jagdish Mandal v. State of Orissa, (2007) 14 SCC 517]

3. We cannot lose sight of the fact that a tenderer or contractor with a grievance can always seek damages in a civil court and thus, “attempts by unsuccessful tenderers with imaginary grievances, wounded pride and business rivalry, to make mountains out of molehills of some technical/procedural violation or some prejudice to self, and persuade courts to interfere by exercising power of judicial review, should be resisted”. [Jagdish Mandal v. State of Orissa, (2007) 14 SCC 517]

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42. We must begin by noticing that we are examining the case, as already stated above, on the parameters discussed at the inception. In commercial tender matters there is obviously an aspect of commercial competitiveness. For every succeeding party who gets a tender there may be a couple or more parties who are not awarded the tender as there can be only one L-1. The question is should the judicial process be resorted to for downplaying the freedom which a tendering party has, merely because it is a State or a public authority, making the said process even more cumbersome. We have already noted that element of transparency is always required in such tenders because of the nature of economic activity carried on by the State, but the contours under which they are to be examined are restricted as set out in Tata Cellular [Tata Cellular v. Union of India, (1994) 6 SCC 651] and other cases. The objective is not to make the Court an appellate authority for scrutinising as to whom the tender should be awarded. Economics must be permitted to play its role for which the tendering authority knows best as to what is suited in terms of technology and price for them.”