CBI moves against ex-NHAI official for violation of terms
An ex-Regional Officer of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI)-Jammu division, along with others, has been booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under allegations of awarding a Rs 9.34 crore work contract to a company that did not meet NHAI's tender eligibility.
The First Information Report (FIR) names the then NHAI-Jammu Regional Officer, Hem Raj, and Rakesh Kumar Chaudhary, proprietor of the private company named M/s Rakesh Kumar Chaudhary, besides the company, as accused.
Last year, the CBI had ordered a preliminary enquiry against the company and unknown officials on the allegation that it was awarded the work order of Rs 9.34 crore for improvement and routine maintenance of the Lakhanpur-Jammu section, including the Jammu Bypass Road in Jammu & Kashmir, in violation of the tender’s terms and conditions.
The CBI found that the NHAI’s Jammu office invited bids through e-tendering for the work. The tender was cancelled and a fresh one was issued in January 2018.
The conditions included that each bidder should have achieved an average annual financial turnover equal to the amount indicated in the notice inviting tender, during the last three years ending March 31 of the previous financial year, certified by a Chartered Accountant. The previous similar works shown as experience should have been satisfactorily completed as a prime contractor during the last seven years.
The tender evaluation committee examined the bids and it turned out that the certificates of the other four bidders clearly mentioned the experience of work on the GT Road However, the accused firm’s certificate was silent about the nature of work, as alleged.
After the opening of the financial bids, the committee recommended the acceptability of rates of the lowest bidder, M/s Rakesh Kumar Chaudhary, which was 41.25% below the estimated cost of Rs 15.90 crore of the tender.
The second-lowest bidder, M/s Mohandas V Rajani, made a representation complaining about alleged discrepancies. His complaint was turned down stating that it was out of context. However, during the initial probe, Mr Rajak told the agency that the issue had not been discussed in the committee.
M/s Mohandas V Rajani approached the Delhi High Court, which directed the NHAI to verify the experience certificates submitted by M/s Rajesh Kumar Chaudhary. It is alleged that the then Regional Officer did not take efforts to do the verification properly.