“Once the tender is closed, tendering authority has no right to accept any other offer, but the JKMSCL has clearly violated these rules and accepted other rates despite closing of the bid”
In one of the biggest alleged multi crore scams pertaining to the Covid-19, Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (JKMSCL) has reportedly changed rules of the game midway to benefit L2 bidder for the supply of the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) Kits.
According to the sources in the JKMSCL, the Corporation made changes in the process after opening of the bids, which is not only unethical but also not permissible under law.
“It was illegal to change the rules of the game, when L1 bidder was already declared. Those heading the corporation have played foul to benefit blue eyed L2 bidder,” said sources, adding that this is a clear cut incident of ‘unaccountability and nepotism’.
Meanwhile, as per documents (copy in possession of The Typewriter), JKMSCL had flouted tender for Rapid Antigen Test Kit for COVID-19, vide order number JKMSCL/COVID/2020/426 dated 3-11-2020 and the M/s Trivitron Healthcare Pvt. Ltd. was declared as lowest bidder (L1) at Rs 116.48 per kit.
Despite closure of the bidding, the JKMSCL sent an email to the L1 bidder, asking him to reduce quoted rates, citing low rates quoted by L2 Bidder, just 15 minutes before the opening of the bids, through an e-mail.
“Your rates offered against the above tender are found higher than that of approved by Haryana Medical Services Corporation Limited (HMSCL). In order to keep the sanctity of tender, you are given an opportunity to submit a fresh commercial offer through email [email protected] by or before 1200 hrs on 25-11-2020, failing which orders shall be placed on the approved rates of HMSCL,” Email reads.
Replying to the above said e-mail of the corporation, the L1 bidder, M/s Trivitron Healthcare Pvt. Ltd. expressed strong resentment for violation of tender norms. In its reply, L1 bidder states, “We strongly object to the email from JKMSCL, wherein it has been asked to match the price of L2 bidder, despite the fact that M/s Trivitron Healthcare Pvt. Ltd. has been declared L1 bidder on the basis of complete protocol of tender process”.
It further states as “We are L1 and by norms of tender, JKMSCL must call us for any price reduction if possible and on our confirmation they can call L2 for matching L1 price. Here it is completely opposite, as they are saying L1 to match the price of L2 bidder for price not quoted in this tender, giving reference to other procuring agencies rates quoted by L2 to be matched by L1”.
It also stated that this means no sanctity of tender can be perceived in case they decide as per their own discretion violating norms of tendering process. “Yes, we are L1 and we stand on our price quoted of Rs 116.48 (each test) for dutifully getting this order placed to us. Kindly take this as our strong representation for violation of tender process,” the response reads.
Sources in the corporation informed that once the tender is closed, tendering authority has no right to accept any other offer, but the JKMSCL has clearly violated these rules and accepted other rates despite closing of the bid.
“The questions are raised as to why L2 didn’t quote the price when the bid was open? Why was the offer given when the financial bid was about to open,” sources asked and alleged that it seems the tender was given to the L2 deliberately despite strong representation given by the L1. They alleged that the JKMSCL has compromised with the rules and regulations of the tendering process just to favour a particular party.
Accepting the charges of changing rules midway, JKMSCL in its reply to the L1’s email, stated that whereas, in reference to aforesaid tender ID, the NIT was issued and after the evaluation of Technical bids, the financial bid was opened on 24th November, 2020 at 03:04 P.M., where the rate quoted by M/s Trivitron Healthcare Pvt. Ltd was found lowest i.e. Rs.116.48 including Taxes per test. Whereas, before the opening of financial bids on 24th November, 2020, at 2:50 P.M. an e mail was received from M/s Tirupati Medilines Pvt Ltd through its Director that their principles M/ s Angstrom Biotech Pvt. Ltd. has informed that the rates quoted at Haryana Medical Supplies Corporation Limited for supply of Rapid Antigen Test Kits for COVID-19 are lower than what have been quoted in Jammu and Kashmir Medical supplies Corporation Limited (JKMSCL).
“After opening of financial bids it was observed that the rates offered by all the six qualified bidders were much higher than the rates being offered at Haryana Medical Supplies Corporation for the same kit which has been validated by ICMR,” reads the reply, adding that clause 27 of the NIT (Fall Clause) provides that “the prices charged for the items/ supplies under the contract by successful Bidder shall in no event exceed the lowest price at which the successful Bidder sells the items/ stores of identical description to any other persons during the period of the contract.
Sources said that the response of the corporation is just ‘beating around the bushes’. “If the corporation felt that there is variation in the rates quoted and the market price, it should have withdrawn the tender, so that level playing field would have been provided to all the bidders,” said sources, adding that when L1 bidder was declared, there was no legal susceptibility to involve all the bidders through a hidden method (e-mail) of rate quoting.
Talking to The Typewriter, Yashpal Sharma Managing Director of Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Limited said that they had approached the L1 bidder to reduce the rate, but he (L1 Bidder) did not budge.
“As per fall clause, we have to communicate the company about the minimum price of the product that is relatively common throughout the country,” said Yashpal, adding that L2 bidder, though an e-mail and relevant documents had approached corporation regarding current cost of the kit, so it was to be intimated to all the bidders.
He said that it was peak time of covid, so cancellation of the tenders was a distant thought at that time. “Over 25000 kits are used daily even today, so any idea of dropping the tenders and going for fresh ones was not a well taken plan,” said Yashpal, adding that even vigilance organization has given ‘clean chit’ to the corporation.