Haresh Sorathia v. State of Madhya Pradesh

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Anticipatory bail application in a case involving manipulation of the e-tendering process

Haresh Sorathia v. State of Madhya Pradesh
In the High Court of Madhya Pradesh
M.CR.C. 34926/19
Before Justice Rajeev Kumar Dubey
Decided on September 9, 2019

Relevancy of the case: Anticipatory bail application in a case involving manipulation of the e-tendering process

 Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 66)
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 120B, 420, 468, 471)
  • The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (Section 7, 13(2))
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 438)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • In 2006, the Department of Information Technology, Government of Madhya Pradesh, adopted an e-tendering system.
  • The M.P. State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd. (MPSEDC) acted as the Nodal Agency for the e-procurement portal. MPSEDC had selected M/s. Tata Consultancy Services with Antares Systems as the new implementation agency for end-to-end e-procurement solutions.
  • MPSEDC made the platform available to the various government departments for floating tenders. In this process, the concerned department that issued a tender could upload it on the portal, along with mentioning the last filing date and tender opening date.
  • After submission of the tender, no departmental officer, e-tendering company or other person could open the tender before its opening time.
  • E-tenders from various government departments were manipulated before they could actually be opened.
  • The accused persons are the directors of OSMO Private Limited. They entered into an agreement with Antares Systems to check the reasons for the slowdown of the e-tendering platform. Antares Systems had engaged OSMO to conduct a performance test, which could not be completed.
  • The applicant, to make the lowest bid, paid a sum of over ₹3.3 crores to one of the directors of OSMO Private Limited for tampering with the e-tendering system.

Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The respondent’s counsel submitted that Antares Systems had onboarded OSMO to test why the platform worked slowly. They had provided a pair of credentials to OSMO. The directors of OSMO Private Limited used this information along with certain technical methods to open the encrypted files. With the help of this manipulation, they helped the applicant in submitting the lowest bid.
  • The applicant’s counsel argued that he had been falsely implicated in this case. There is no conclusive finding in the case that points out any manipulation in the tender process. Furthermore, the concerned department had cancelled the tender. Hence, there was no question of earning illegal profits. The money transaction between the applicant and the accused persons was a business deal. Since the applicant has fully cooperated in the investigation, the court should accept the applicant’s bail application.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The court noted the seriousness of the offences and submissions made by the respondent’s counsel.

Final Decision

  • The court dismissed the application.

Nandini Gadgil, an undergraduate student at DES Shri Navalmal Firodia Law College, Pune, prepared this case summary during her internship with The Cyber Blog India in January/February 2021.