New Delhi [India], December 18 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice to the Central government and others on a plea seeking to quash contracts granted allegedly on nomination basis by the Administrator of Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund, working under the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), to a private firm.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan sought a response from the Union of India through the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL), Central Vigilance Commission and CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd (CSC SPV) on the allegations made in the petitioner Telecom watchdog and slated the matter for January 29, 2021.
"The private firm named CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd was initially created as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for providing e-governance services under the Public-Private Partnership model," the plea said.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioner NGO named Telecom Watchdog, sought to quash the agreement dated July 15, 2019, signed amongst USOF, BBNL and CSC SPV and restoration of status quo-ante by reversing the consequent action taken in the operation of said Agreement and direction to CVC for investigation of the award of contracts.
The plea said the award of contracts on a nomination basis is against CVC's Order dated July 5, 2007, which mentions that government contracts cannot be awarded on a nomination basis.
"It is needless to state that tendering process or public auction is a basic requirement for the award of a contract by any government agency as any other method, especially award of contract on nomination basis, would amount to a breach of Article 14 of the Constitution guaranteeing the right to equality, which implies right to equality to all interested parties," the plea said.
According to the petition, the Administrator of Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund, working under the DoT is allegedly awarding contracts in a routine manner on a nomination basis to a private company named CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd.
It said CSC SPV, in turn, has incorporated its wholly-owned subsidiary company named CSC WiFiChoupal Services India Pvt Ltd (CSC Choupal).
The plea alleged that modus operandi adopted that, USO Fund would award the contracts to CSC SPV on a nomination basis, would pass on all the contracts to CSC Choupal, which in turn would further pass on the contracts to various other private companies, without any tender.
"CSC SPV is camouflaging itself as a government company by using its portal and emails ending with 'gov.in' and using registered office that of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology," the plea said.
"Moreover, WiFi projects being launched at just GPs is wastage of public money as it has 100 to 150 meters coverage only and compared to this, the telecom operators have already reached over 5.75 lakh villages out of total 6 lakh villages providing better coverage at cheaper rates," it added. (ANI)