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passportThe Delhi High Court has sought the Centre’s response on a plea of a visa and passport service provider challenging a contract awarded to another firm to provide visa services in the Indian Embassy and all consulates in the US.

A bench of justices BD Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul issued notice to Ministry of External Affairs, Indian Embassy in the US and Cox and Kings Global Services and sought their reply while fixing the matter for next hearing on July 10.

In its petition, BLS International Services Ltd challenged the contract awarded to Cox and Kings to provide visa services in the Indian Embassy and all consulates in the US. It also sought to call the records of External Affairs Ministry in relation to the termination of its contract. “Issue direction thereby setting aside the said impugned letter dated March 19 issued by Indian Embassy and direct the respondent no 1 and 2 (External Affairs Ministry and Indian Embassy) not to accord the contract and enter into a written agreement/contract with Cox & Kings and to consider the financial bid of the petitioner and award the contract to the petitioner as its bid is lowest,” the petition said.

“On the alternative, if the contract has been awarded and agreement/contract has been already entered into with Cox & Kings in the said eventuality, the said award and contract awarded to/entered into with it may be struck down or quashed,” it said.

According to the petition, on June 6, 2012, BLS participated in the bidding process related to the visa outsourcing contract in the US. The petitioner was found technically and financially fit and was awarded the contract on June 15. Later, the petitioner’s contract was put on hold and asked not to start the assigned work. In January 2013, its contract was cancelled and the Indian Embassy in the US invited fresh tender bids.

The petitioner again participated in the tender and was awarded the contract on May 17. However, its contract was again terminated because the permission of value-added services was not granted and BLS exercised its option to seek termination of the contract by giving six months notice in advance. The Indian Embassy in the US had announced to outsource its passport and visa related services to Cox & Kings following complaints against BLS International Services Ltd.

(Source: PTI)

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