The Mistry family held Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SP Group) alleged “serious misconduct” in the bid process for the Parliament redevelopment project that was allotted to Tata Sons in September 2020.
According to a report by Business Standard, the group has in multiple letters to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) requested for retendering of the bids and disqualification of Tata Sons due to “probable conflict of interest”.
SP Group, as per a letter quoted in the report, noted that participation of both Tata Projects (TPL) – bid for subject tender, and Tata Consulting Engineers (TCE) – associated as sub-consultant, is a violation of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) rules.
“It is essential to make a mention that both aforesaid companies are affiliates and part of the Tata Group, having common shareholding through Tata Sons including its direct and/or indirect associated companies,” the letter said and requested for “a thorough examination” of the process.
SP Group sent letters again once TPL won the project bid on September 16. Notably, the Mistrys hold 18.4 per cent stake in Tata Sons.
They reiterated the “conflict of interest” charge even after CPWD ruled it out stating: “The bidding process cannot be treated to be impartial and as tendering process had been carried out in violation to government/CVC, Tata Projects needs to be disqualified and the subject works needs to be re-tendered.”
The report, quoting sources, says that the SP Group has also alleged “tweaks” in the pre-qualification bid criteria to allow firms with experience in steel building projects (along with the original requirement for experience in concrete buildings) to accommodate TPL, besides other changes, the report said.
“As per our understanding of the tender conditions and other provisions, we are not aware of any conflict of interest. There were no changes made to the pre-qualification criteria in the RFQ document issued by the tendering entity till the submission date. TPL participated in the RFQ process along with six other companies, and our qualification was found suitable based on a verification of our submission and experience,” a TPL spokesperson said as per the report.
In response to question of the “thin bidding margin” of Rs 3.1 crore between TPL and L&T’s offers of Rs 861.9 crore and Rs 865 crore respectively, the spokesperson said “it is not unusual”.
SP Group and CPWD officer Ashwani Mittal did not respond to queries, says the report.