No Coercive Steps Against Voda, Idea For 3G
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The Centre has told Delhi High Court that it will not take coercive steps against telecom firms Vodafone and Idea which have been asked to pay penalty of Rs 550 crore and Rs 300 crore, respectively for providing 3G facilities outside their circles without requisite licences.
"I am told that a SLP has been filed by Bharti Cellular Ltd against the judgement of a division bench of this court. The Supreme Court has been told by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) that it will not take coercive action.... "The Additional Solicitor General (ASG) also told this court that no coercive action will be taken. List on Friday (April 12)," Justice Rajiv Shakdher said.
The court was hearing the petitions filed by Vodafone and Idea Cellular against recent DoT notices asking them to pay penalties of Rs 550 crore (11 circles) and Rs 300 crore (six circles) respectively for providing 3G services to customers outside their circles for which they did not get the requisite licences in the auction held in 2010.
DoT notices asking them to stop offering 3G mobile phone services in circles where they did not win spectrum in the 2010 auction of the radio waves were issued days after the Delhi High Court set aside a stay on a similar notice served on Bharti Airtel Ltd.
During the hearing, senior advocate C.A. Sundaram, appearing for Vodafone, said that the case was different from that of Bharti Airtel as neither a committee was constituted nor the telecom company was heard before issuing the notices were issued.
Meanwhile, senior advocate N.K. Kaul said Reliance Telecom be allowed to intervene as the division bench had taken the decision against Bharti Airtel on its plea.
In a related development, Bharti Airtel has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court order giving its nod to the Centre's decision holding the 3G roaming pact of the telecom major as illegal. The apex court has asked the Centre not to take any coercive steps against the firm, owned by Sunil Bharti Mittal.
The DoT on 15 March had issued a notification restraining Bharti from providing 3G intra-circle roaming facilities in seven circles where it did not have the spectrum and also levied a penalty of Rs 350 crore (Rs 50 crore per circle) for violating the licence terms and conditions.