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The Supreme Court Monday dismissed a petition seeking to restrain the central government from awarding a contract for the modernisation of 30 airfields of the Indian Air Force to a consortium of companies led by Tata Power’s Strategic Electronic Division (Tata Power SED).

The vacation bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice C.K. Prasad asked senior counsel Rajiv Sawhney, appearing for the petitioner Selex Sistemi Integrati SPA: ‘Do you want us to stop the modernisation of the airfields?’

Justice Singhvi said that it was in the national interest that ‘our airfields are developed as fast as possible’. ‘This court is not like a Robin Hood. It is only Robin Hood who can grant interim relief in this kind of matter,’ he added.

Sawhney said the Delhi High Court was seized with the question whether equality before law under Article 14 of the Constitution could be expanded to include freedom to practice any profession or carry out any occupation guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) even to a foreign firm like Selex Sistemi Integrati SPA.

He told the court that it would take long before the question of law was decided by the high court.

At this, the court said that the petitioner could make all these submissions before the high court. The firm had moved the apex court challenging the high court order, declining its plea for restraining the central government from awarding the contract to Tata Power SED.

Appearing for the central government, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said the issue was being looked into by the high court, which would also look into the original records.

Selex Sistemi Integrati SPA had bid Rs.1,141 crore for undertaking the renovation of the airfields whereas the Tata Power SED-led consortium had bid Rs.1,094 crore.

In its plea, Selex Sistemi Integrati SPA contended that the bid by the Tata Power SED had blank areas and the Indian firm did not have requisite experience in the field of military airfield modernisation.


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