New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought response of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) on Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd's plea challenging award of contract to Indus Towers for providing free WiFi, through the 18,500 street poles in the area.
A bench of justices B D Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva issued notice to NDMC and Indus Towers and sought their replies by April 21, the next date of hearing.
The court also refused to give any interim relief to Reliance, which had sought a stay on award of contract of the Rs 220 crore project which also includes replacement of streetlights with LED bulbs and putting up CCTV cameras.
The project is expected to be fully commissioned in three years, but the tender is for a 10-year period.
Reliance has challenged the tender on the ground that Indus was held as successful as it had submitted a bid for 20 years, while the contract period is for 10 years.
"After 10 years, it is the discretion of NDMC to extend it for another 10 years or not," senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for Reliance, said.
Advocate Malvika Trivedi, appearing for NDMC, submitted that letter of intent in favour of Indus was signed on March 18 as it was successful in the tender process.
She said that decision to award contract to Indus was taken as it had offered to pay Rs 4000 per pole per annum to the civic body as revenue while Reliance had offered only Rs 500 per pole per annum.
Indus Towers is a three-way joint venture among Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular in which India's top two cellular service provider hold 42 per cent share each while Idea holds 16 per cent.
The civic agency had earlier invited expression of interest for establishment and maintenance of mesh WiFi network, however, later it had asked the interested parties to assess the feasibility with an appropriate project mix, also to maximise its revenue.
NDMC then floated request for proposal including comprehensive structure for CCTV, LED bulbs and WiFi street poles, offering them as telecom antennas on a rental.
NDMC's ambitious free WiFi project was launched last year in Khan Market and later in Connaught Place.
Like in Connaught Place and Khan market, the WiFi will be free for first 20 minutes irrespective of operators after which the telecom provider's commercial model will be operative.