PIL against Bangalore One irregularities admitted by the Karnataka High Court (RTI Act has also played an important role to get information)
13th December 2005.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against Bangalore One project filed by Mr.Veeresh who runs a non governmental organization called Brashtachara Nirmoolana Vedike (Forum for eradication of corruption) in Bangalore had been admitted by the Karnataka High Court today. The HC had ordered issue of notices to the respondents.
The Writ petition had raised serious issues about lack of transparency and corruption in the award of contract for the Bangalore One project.
Mr.Veeresh is a member of the egovINDIA – yahoo group which advocates true e-governance in India with special focus on benefits accruing to the common man in the form of reduction in corruption. Mr.Veeresh has been in the forefront of a wide variety of anti corruption activities in Karnataka.
Mr. Veeresh is also a member of EKAVI, INDIA RTI and INDIAWBA. Mr. Veeresh has used the RTI Act to get information from authorities.
The list of respondents includes Microsoft Corporation (I) Private Limited, New Delhi, Ram Infotech Limited, CMS computers limited, Government of Karnataka, Government of India, Mr.J.Satyanarayana, CEO of NISG among others.
The main contention of the petitioner is that the entire Bangalore One project was conceived to entrust to the contract to Respondents 3 and 4 (Ram Infotech and CMS Consortium). He had alleged serious corruption in the project.
He had also the legality of prescribing Microsoft technology which is proprietary and costed when open source software was available free. The MoU entered into between the Government of Karnataka and Microsoft had been challenged in the Writ Petition.
The petitioner had raised questions about the involvement of NISG and its CEO Mr.Satyanarayana.
We have received a part of the PIL documents. From out of the that we are giving the following excerpts.
Moderator, eGovINDIA group.
Excerpts from the Writ Petition:
"The petitioner submits that the entire exercise is intended to award the contract to respondents 3 and 4. The petitioner submits that in this context the e-seva project implemented by respondents 3 and 4 in Andhra Pradesh and the Memorandum of Understanding entered into between respondents 3,4 and 6 to adopt Microsoft .NET platform in the implementation of e-seva project assumes significance. The involvement of 9th respondent in advancing the business interest of respondents 3,4 and 6 is also explicit".
The petitioner had questioned the legality of the MoU entered between Microsoft and the Government of Karnataka.
"The petitioner submits that the Memorandum of Understanding dated 13-11-2002 suffers from illegalities and infirmities. How and under what authority the 7th respondent entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the 6h respondent binding the state of Karnataka is not known. It is also contrary to the Karnataka Act 29 of 2000".
"The petitioner submits that in terms of the Memorandum of Understanding with Microsoft, Government of Karnataka has adopted the .NET platform for the B1 Project. Microsoft would provide the required software at a concessional rate as part of its responsibility under the Memorandum of Understanding. It would also provide consultancy to Government of Karnataka and help the successful tenderer.
The petitioner submits that the intention of the Government is clear. The tenderer has to use the software platform provided by the 6th respondent only. All the major Indian software companies which use non Microsoft software platform are practically excluded. It is intriguing that when Indian companies are gaining world wide recognition in software industry, the Government of Karnataka is promoting Microsoft. Leading Indian companies cannot use their software built on non Microsoft platform. Even if they were to participate in the tender, they are obliged under the tender conditions to buy Microsoft's .NET software and a host of other Microsoft software packages.
The petitioner submits under the heading 'application architecture' it is stipulated as follows: " it is necessary for the bidders to adopt the Microsoft .NET platform. This is mandated in the light of the Memorandum of Understanding between Microsoft and Government of Karnataka, in relation to implementation of B1 Project. This requirement translates to the use of BizTalk Server for Application Integration, IIS for web server and SQL server for database. The bidders can propose appropriate products for other components like firewall, Storage etc., Subject to this requirement, the application architecture for B1 is indicated in this Section.
The petitioner submits that BizTalk server for application integration, Internet Information Server (IIS) for web server and Microsoft SQL server are the proprietary products of Microsoft. Thus the entire contract is conceived to promote the business interest of Microsoft in India in total disregard of national interest. Indian industries in the software field are totally bypassed".
"The petitioner submits that except respondents 3 and 4, none else could satisfy the qualification prescribed, namely completing a similar project for a period of one year in India. Obviously while preparing the tender document , the e-seva project in Andhra Pradesh which was awarded to respondents 3 and 4 was operating in the minds of those who settled the tender conditions. The role of the 9th respondent as the Chief Executive Officer in preparing such a document raises serious doubts. The 9th respondent has a definite role in awarding the contract to respondents 3 and 4".
Grounds for the Writ Petition.
The petitioner submits that the Memorandum of Understanding entered into between respondents 6 and 7 dated 13-11-2004 and the contract entered into between the 1st respondent and the 3rd respondent dated 20-12-2004 are liable to be declared as illegal and invalid for the following among other grounds.
A: The Memorandum of Understanding dated 13-11-2002 has been entered into in total violation of law. It is opposed to public policy.
B: The government cannot enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to promote the business interest of the 6th respondent in the manner it has been done.
C: The tender proposal for Bangalore One Project is prepared in terms of the Memorandum of Understanding dated 13-11-2002. The tender proposal itself is thus conceived fraudulently. The entire transaction is vitiated.
D: The entire project is conceived to award the contract to respondents 3 and 4 who in turn have entered into an agreement with the 6th respondent.
E: The committees constituted for preparing the tender documents and award of contract have only carried out the Memorandum of Understanding dated 13-11-2002 entered into between respondents 6 and 7.
F: The 5th respondent is not promoting eGovernance. The funds provided for eGovernance are diverted to enrich a few. The 9th respondent is extending the e-seva project which was commenced in Andhra Pradesh when he was the Secretary to Government to other states. The public statements given by him apropos the role of the 5th respondent in the promotion of e-governance proves that he is guilty of promoting private business interests in the name of e-governance.
G: The contract dated 20-12-2004 entered into between the 1st respondent and 3rd respondent is not a genuine contract to promote e-governance. The contract is brought about fraudulently to enrich respondents 3, 4 and 6 adverse to the interest of the general public and e-governance.
H: The concept of e-governance is misused to promote utility bill collections. There is no e-governance at all. The public are not benefited. True e-governance should help the people to obtain licences, permits, building plans, lay out approvals, social service benefits, rural development scheme benefits etc online using online two way transaction procedure.
I: Microsoft is interested in selling its proprietary and closed software. Even in America, companies such as IBM and Sun Micro Systems have introduced open source software systems. Indian companies who are acclaimed to be within the fortune 500 companies in the world are adopting open source software systems. The Government of Karnataka cannot in the circumstances, in the name of e-governance promote the sale of proprietary and priced software of Microsoft adverse to the interest of Indian companies. In fact the Indian companies have been practically excluded from competing for the tender. It is against public policy and national interest.
J: Indian companies who adopt open source software systems have world wide recognition. In the circumstances, execution of the contract under the Bangalore One project insisting on the adoption of only Microsoft .NET and other Microsoft products is illegal.
K: There is arbitrariness and corruption. The persons involved in promoting private business interests for extraneous consideration should be identified and prosecuted and punished in accordance with law.
L: The manner in which the tender conditions have been contrived to award the contracts to respondents 3 and 4 who in turn have business agreement with the 6th respondent is fraudulent. There is a design to extend this contract throughout India under the auspicious of the 5th respondent. Instead of promoting e-governance which is intended to eradicate corruption, in the name of e-governance an illegal contract is entered into.
In the above circumstances, having no other alternative and efficacious remedy the petitioner in genuine public interest is filing this writ petition.
The petitioner has not filed any other writ petition or other proceedings with respect to the same cause of action.
The petitioner therefore prays that this Hon'ble court may be pleased to issue a writ of Certiorari or any other writ or order or direction in the nature of the writ calling for the records relating to the Memorandum of Understanding dated 13-11-2002 entered into between respondent 7 and 9 and the agreement dated 20-12-2004 entered into between the first respondent and the 3rd respondent quash the same and pass such other orders as the Hon'ble court may deem fit and proper in the circumstances of the case and render justice".
1. State of Karnataka represented by the Secretary to Government,
Department of e-governance,
2. The Director,
Government of Karnataka,
Room No. 106, 1st floor, Gate No.1, M.S.Building,
3. CMS Computers Limited,
2nd Floor, No. 52, St. Marks Road,
represented by its Managing Director
4. Ram Informatics Limited,
2nd Floor, Srinagar Colony,
represented by its Managing Director.
5. National Institute of Smart Government (NISG),
IIIT Campus, Gachi Bowli,
Hyderabad -500 019 Andhra Pradesh
Represented by its Chief Executive Officer.
6. Microsoft Corporation (I) Private Limited,
The Great Eastern Centre, 70 Nehru Place,
New Delhi 110 019.
represented by its Managing Director.
Department of Information Technology, Government of Karnataka,
8. The Union of India represented by
The Secretary to Government,
Communication and Information Technology department,
9. J.Satyanarayana IAS., CEO,
National Institute of Smart Government,
IIIT Campus, Gachi Bowli,
Hyderabad -500 019 Andhra Pradesh
I am V. M. Kumaraswamy MBA, is in business since 1971. Founder and Moderator of India's largest e-governance yahoo-group under the title eGovINDIA. You can reach this group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eGovINDIAeGovINDIA is a group dedicated to promoting true e-governance in India, consisting of members from all walks of life from within INDIA and the World over. Many State Ministers and senior bureaucrats of India are members of this group. We do have lawyers, social activists, freelance writers and journalists in the group. The group is meant for serious activists only. Casual members are not allowed to join the group. The group is also moderated by an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Officer. As on date, the group has nearly 2500 members.
The focus of this group is true e-governance and use of open source technology in e-governance. The members of this forum have a passion to see a truly e-governed India, resulting in transparency and easy access to government services by the common man, notably the depressed class people (so called untouchables), women and people living in far flung and difficult areas of India.
eGovINDIA's subsidiary groups:
India WhistleBlower Act: The Action Group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/INDIA_WBA
Exclusive Discussion Group on Judicial and Legal Reforms in INDIA. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JUDICIALREFORMS
Right to Information in INDIA discussion group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/INDIARTI
Read this Publication in Dataquest on e-gov corruption. It gives how NISG is handling eGovernance in INDIA. NASSCOM is MAJORITY(51%) partner in NISG. Even NASSCOM is playing into the hands of NISG.
Data quest in its recent issue had written about the corruption in e-Govt.
|The E-governance Muddle
|What was expected to bring transparency in government transactions has got mired in a slew of allegations. Dataquest probes the charges made by an IAS officer against his own clan…
|Friday, September 02, 2005|
> Mr. Umashankar is very right in trying to get the truth of it. There are many such things happening in the name of E-gov during last four years without any tangible social benefits to the common man. Mr Umashankar is a man who has done work in grassroots level and has soiled his hand in doing things for common man.
He is unlike others who mostly have been involving themselves discharging their financial and administrative powers only for outsourcing the establishment of networks after network and building organizations/egov-centers which are very easy but very expensive having little significance for common man. No doubt these activities are good for officers to make them IT champion and help them build their shelf image.
This has been happening from the year 2000 when in one go we have 30 IT secretaries in states and 60 IT managers in central Governments without having any IT knowledge and experience.
GOI has spent crores of rupees in the name of E-governance. Now we have hundreds of networks like state wide networks and E-governance centres and Organisations like NISG. Since these are already established, therfore, they have to be functional. we know how these are functioning..
All networks are mostly being used for personal e-mails (not necessarily official mail) without having much for any E-governance applications.
Lot of Recurring expenditures being borne by Govt of India for maintaining such networks.
NISG may be section 25 company which can not be given project out rightly by any government agency without having any tender. But NISG bags projects directly from Govt department as single agency and it is surprising to note that NISG, in turn, awards project out rightly to single agency without having any tendering procedure. This is serious issue. Mr Umashankar has reason to raise this issue. We should support his observation.
I am sorry in case some one feels bad about what i wrote. But it is reality that we have to face it sooner or later… Any thing we do wrongly now it will have multiple effect and it will cost government India hugely. Mr. Umashankar has not blamed Mr.Satynarayana personally. May be Mr Satyanarayan has been posted to head an organisation where there is no work at present and has no significant agenda. He is doing it to justify his posting.
Do you all know? when Mr Arun shourie was Minister for D/O Administrative Reforms , Govt Of India, has out rightly rejected the concept of NISG.
Many influential people in India have been establishing organization for their own gratifications but least of them see that these organizations really deliver.
sorry to bother you all