labels: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, Nokia
Delhi HC refuses to rule on BSNL-Nokia spat news
22 May 2009

The Delhi High Court today dismissed a petition filed by mobile equipment vendor Nokia Siemens Network seeking a stay in the tendering process of public sector telecom firm Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.

After BSNL submitted that the matter pertains to a tender floated by the state-run company in the Chandigarh, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata zones, a division bench ruled that Nokia Siemens should approach the appropriate high court where the jurisdiction lies.

Nokia Siemens was disqualified from the tendering process of BSNL on technical grounds and has also taken its case to the Central Vigilance Commission, the Competition Commission of India and the Department of Telecommunications alleging non-transparency and tweaking of norms by BSNL.

BSNL has floated a 93-million GSM line contract valued at Rs30,000 crore, for which the likely winners are Ericsson and Huawei Technologies. The formal announcement for successful bidders is yet to be made, and the legal dispute may disrupt BSNL's expansion plans.

The spat between Nokia Siemens and BSNL over the latter's decision to disqualify the Finnish company's offer for the GSM took a legal turn on Thursday, when NSN filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court challenging its disqualification by BSNL.

BSNL's GSM project was delayed by more than a year in 2007 when Motorola dragged the PSU to court for disqualifying its bid. The matter was later settled out of court and Motorola withdrew the case.

In the latest spat, the Finnish equipment maker was disqualified by BSNL, along with Alcatel-Lucent and ZTE, on technical grounds. BSNL picked the bids submitted by Ericsson and Huawei while rejecting the offers made by three other vendors.

Nokia's primary grouse is that it has supplied similar equipment to BSNL in earlier projects, and therefore, it was unfair to disqualify its bid on technical grounds.

In its complaint to the CCI, Nokia Siemens has also highlighted what it calls the lack of competition in the bidding process, since BSNL's technical committee qualified bids from only one equipment supplier in three of the four zones. It said that BSNL may have lost out in getting the best price in the process.

Nokia Siemens added in its complaint to the CVC that it had clarified all issues raised by BSNL and also given relevant certificates.

The company has sought an investigation as to whether the tender conditions were diluted to favour certain vendors. For example, BSNL had done away with the requirement that bidders ought to have local manufacturing, which was mandatory in its earlier contract.

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Delhi HC refuses to rule on BSNL-Nokia spat