The tender issued by “National Informatics Centre” (Ref. No: NIC/TPS/2009/18) for purchase of laptops with preloaded software for the Supreme Court is objectionable and has to be cancelled with immediate effect. We, the undersigned citizens and organisations raise our objections for the following reasons:
The tender relates to purchase of proprietary brands of laptops (Apple laptops) and the software installed (Windows XP) in it. Any fair tendering practice should allow competition and only give system specifications. In this tender, the only brand name given is Apple and only operating system given is Windows XP from Microsoft. This makes these single vendor products. Making the dealers of these companies compete cannot be considered proper competition.
Both laptops and operating systems are available in a number of forms and from a number of vendors. Therefore, this is not a single vendor situation and no exception should be considered on this count.
Moreover, the above mentioned tender is for laptops to be used by the Supreme Court of India. As the supreme judicial body of the country, the Court must set a proper precedent and not allow such unfair tendering practice.
Further, the stated software Windows XP -- doesn't comply to the open standards, which has been the favoured policy of the Government of India till date. This and other similar products from proprietary suppliers provide vendor lock-in as their data and files can read by only their software. Such a step by the Supreme Court would set the clock back in the country, where increasingly Government organisations and others are turning to Free and Open Source Software. In this context, it might be noted that Allahabad High Court has already successfully converted to FOSS and Open Standards (http://www.allahabadhighcourt.in/faq.htm)
Institutions like NIC under the Ministry of Information and Technology have to ensure the adoption of software that complies with open standards.
We, therefore, demand that the current tender should be scrapped forthwith and a new tendering process be initiated without naming any brands and incorporating Free and Open Source Software.
The tender is availabe at http://tenders.gov.in/