I came across and solved this problem, to add an additional (and shorter and simpler) answer...
First note, extended shell comparison failed as you may already know...
if [[ 1.2.0 < 1.12.12 ]]; then echo true; else echo false; fi
Using the sort -t'.'-g (or sort -V as mentioned by kanaka) to order versions and simple bash string comparison I found a solution. The input file contains versions in columns 3 and 4 which I want to compare. This iterates through the list identifying a match or if one is greater than the other. Hope this may still help anyone looking to do this using bash as simple as possible.
while read l
#Field 3 contains version on left to compare (change -f3 to required column).
kf=$(echo $l | cut -d ' ' -f3)
#Field 4 contains version on right to compare (change -f4 to required column).
mp=$(echo $l | cut -d ' ' -f4)
echo 'kf = '$kf
echo 'mp = '$mp
#To compare versions m.m.m the two can be listed and sorted with a . separator and the greater version found.
gv=$(echo -e $kf'\n'$mp | sort -t'.' -g | tail -n 1)
if [ $kf = $mp ]; then
echo 'Match Found: '$l
elif [ $kf = $gv ]; then
echo 'Karaf feature file version is greater '$l
elif [ $mp = $gv ]; then
echo 'Maven pom file version is greater '$l
echo 'Comparison error '$l
done < features_and_pom_versions.tmp.txt
Thanks to Barry's blog for the sort idea...