Canadian firm takes IIT to SC over Aakash deal

The battle between Datawind and IIT-Jodhpur over the Aakash tablet has reached the Supreme Court.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: July 30, 2013 3:54:28 am

The battle between Datawind and IIT-Jodhpur over the Aakash tablet has reached the Supreme Court.

Datawind has alleged that the IIT “illegally” encashed the Rs 50 lakh bank guarantee as compensation for damages it suffered due to the Canadian firm’s failure to deliver the tablets on time,and pleaded with the court to appoint an arbitrator to resolve the dispute.

Justice S S Nijjar admitted Datawind’s petition and issued a notice to the IIT to respond to it within four weeks.

The firm claimed in its petition that “no losses were sustained by the IIT and that the petitioner was not even paid its dues for supply of LCADS already supplied to them. Invocation of the bank guarantee was totally fraudulent and illegal. It was the respondent whose omission and actions delayed the entire project.”

The company also contended that it had sent a notice to the IIT in December to appoint a retired high court judge as an arbitrator,in accordance with their agreement of April 4,2011,but the institute did not even care to respond.

Datawind asserted that since it was incorporated under British law,arbitration with the ITT would be international commercial arbitration and,thus,require the Chief Justice or his nominee to appoint a high court judge or a retired SC judge as an arbitrator.

The dispute dates back to April 2011 when the IIT placed a Rs 4,772 lakh order for 100,000 Low Cost Access-cum-Computing Devices — better known as Aakash – with Datawind.

However,soon after the firm supplied the first 500 tablets,the IIT rejected them as defective – in the quality of sound,ability to hang and swing them from charger port cable,loose flap and other such.

Datawind termed the rejection as arbitrary and claimed that the IIT’s role was limited to procuring the tablet and there was no input in terms of design,creation or manufacture of the tablet.

This triggered a conflict that not only forced the HRD ministry to intervene several times but ultimately led to the Aakash project being transferred to IIT-Bombay.

IIT Jodhpur and Datawind,meanwhile,are also slugging it out in a Jodhpur court over the institution’s civil suit for damages.

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