K. S. GUPTA, MEMBER
State Government Maharashtra found that the planetary camera system in use since 1927 was not adequate enough to cope with the continuously increasing number of photo-copying applications of the registered documents which are preserved by complainant No. 2 under the Registration Act. So, with a view to modernising the system and after obtaining report from Tata Consultancy Services, the complainants invited tenders specifying their requirements to have a modern photo copying system. Hindustan Computers Ltd., opposite party Bombay/Pune, was one of the tenderers and their tender was accepted. Equipment was installed which became operational sometime in July, 1992. It was alleged that the complainants found that the output of photo printing was much below the output ensured in the tender and the equipment supplied was defective. Complaint was, therefore, filed seeking direction to opposite parties to take back the equipment supplied by HCL, refund the amount and compensate the loss caused to the Government. In alternative, replacement of the equipment by another set of different type, which would achieve the committed target of production with acceptable quality of prints alongwith compensation for the loss caused was sought. Opposite parties 3 and 4 who had taken over the assets and liabilities of opposite parties 1 and 2, HCL, Bombay/Pune contested the complaint by filing written statement. With the consent of parties counsel by the order dated 28th July, 1995, the Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC), a Government of India Undertaking was appointed to report on the following issues:-
1. Whether the equipment is suitable for the purpose for which it was supplied?
2. Whether it is operational for the purpose for which it was supplied?
3. If not, what are the defects/deficiencies in this regard and the reasons for these defects and deficiencies?
4. What steps can and should be taken to remove these defects to make it operational?
CMC submitted the report on 22.4.1997 against which the opposite parties filed certain objections. By the order dated 25th November, 1999, the complaint was allowed with direction to Hindustan Computers Ltd. to refund the cost of machinery i.e. Rs. 58,66,725/- to complainant No. 1 and pay interest @ 12% p.a. from 7th October, 1993, the date on which the complaint was filed till date of payment. Perusal of this order would show that the Bench was of the view that it was too late to raise objections to the report dated 22.4.1997 which, in fact, have been made the main ground for contesting the complaint by HCL. Dis-satisfied with this order, the opposite parties filed Civil Appeal No. 859 of 2000 in the Supreme Court. Vide order dated 28th April, 2000 while allowing appeal and setting aside the said order dated 25.11.1999, the Supreme Court ordered the Commission to go into the merits of the objections raised by the opposite parties. Vide order dated 18th November 2008, the Commission held that the said report dated 22.4.97cannot form the sole basis for deciding the complaint. However, Commission would be free to take such assistance from the report as it may consider necessary. Order dated 18th November, 2008 notices that against the order dated 18th November, 2008, the complainants have filed SLP on 22.11.2008. SLP seem to be pending uptill the date arguments were heard in the complaint. In our view, dehorse the said report of CMC dated 22.4.1997, perhaps, the controversy between the parties cannot be decided on the
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basis of affidavits of evidence filed by the parties. We, therefore, direct the complainants to apprise the Commission about the outcome in the SLP. In case SLP has been disposed of, the copy of the order be filed before 19th March, 2010 on which date matter be listed for further proceedings. Registry will send a copy of this order to both the parties and their counsel immediately.