.IN project: Afilias plea in High Court seeks disqualification of Neustar

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on August 26, 2018 Published on August 26, 2018


The battle between Afilias and Neustar to win the mandate for managing India’s .IN registry has taken a legal turn with the former filing a plea in the Delhi High Court seeking a stay on the proceedings for awarding the contract.

In its petition, Afilias has said that Neustar’s should be declared ineligible to bid for the project as it did not have capabilities to manage the .IN registry. Afilias has also urged the court to restrain the Centre from awarding the contract to Neustar without going into the eligibility criteria.

Afilias has been managing the .IN registry since 2005 but now faces the prospects of losing the business as rival Neustar has emerged as the lowest bidder for the contract floated by the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI).

Afilias’ main grouse is that Neustar did not have capabilities to offer domain names in 22 Indian regional languages at the time of bidding for the Indian contract and therefore is not eligible.

Global player

Neustar is a global player and manages several top-level domain registries including .US but Afilias has flagged concerns around the cost of transition to a new operator. One of the key requirements for the Indian contract is to have the ability to offer domain names in regional languages. Afilias has alleged that since Neustar did not have this capability in India , its bid should be disqualified on technical grounds.

“Despite several representations made by the petitioner (Afilias), wherein Respondent No 3’s ( Neustar) lack of experience and misrepresentations made were pointed out, no action has been taken against Neustar. Respondent No 1 and 2 (Union of India and NIXI) have not even responded to the Afilias’ representation,” Afilias said in its petition before the Delhi High Court.

Earlier, in a letter to the IT Ministry, Afilias said “An unqualified bidder means that the entire programme of regional language IDNs will come to a grinding halt.”

Nesutar did not respond to requests for comments from BusinessLine.

Amitabh Singhal, the founder of NIXI under whose stint as CEO, .IN was liberalised and transformed into one of the most popular and successful domain names, had earlier told this newspaper that transitioning of a critical Internet resource such as India’s .IN ccTLD (country code top-level domain) is a sensitive matter involving the security and stability of the country’s DNS infrastructure. “Afilias has been managing the .IN registry since the beginning and they have put in place substantive local infrastructure for the same. So one needs to see if a new player meets all the requirements of having a localised but stable, highly secure and resilient infrastructure,” Singhal had said.

Published on August 26, 2018
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