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Stop India Ops, SC To Revoked Telecom Permit Holders

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Mobile phone carriers in India whose permits were revoked last year must stop operations immediately unless they have won new rights to airwaves, the country's Supreme Court ruled according to three lawyers on the case.
 
Telecom companies which were successful in the fresh auction held on November 12 and 14, 2012 will be asked to start their services in the respective circles immediately, the court ruled.
 
"The telecom companies which have been unsuccessful in the bidding and those after the cancellation of the licences did not participate in the fresh auction are directed to cease from continuing from operation forthwith and the successful bidders will immediately start in their respective circles," the court said.
 
A bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan directed that those telecom companies which were allowed to continue operation after scrapping of their licences by February 2, 2012 judgement will have to pay the reserved price fixed for the licences in the first round of the auction held in November 2012.
 
The apex court by its interim orders had extended the deadline for them to continue with the operation.
 
The bench clarified that the apex court's Feb 2, 2012 judgement will not be applicable on telecom companies holding the spectrum with 900 MHz band.
 
"The February 2, 2012 order will have no bearing on litigation relating to 900 MHz band," the bench said, adding that it (900 MHz band spectrum) was not the subject matter before it.
 
The bench also directed to immediately put on fresh auction entire 2G spectrum for the licences cancelled by it.

The court last year ordered 122 permits held by eight carriers including the Indian units of Russia's Sistema and Norway's Telenor ASA, as well as India-based Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices to be revoked after a massive scandal over the permits sale process in 2008.
 
As per the apex court order, 21 licences of Sistema Shyam Teleservices (MTS), 16 permits of Telenor controlled Uninor, 15 of Videocon and 3 CDMA permits of Tata Teleservices were to stand cancelled from January 18, affecting around 25 crore subscribers in the country.
 
Telenor is in the process of transferring the business of Uninor in 6 circles to new entity Telewings Communications, which recently won spectrum in fresh auction.
 
At least three of the firms that had their permits revoked, including the Indian affiliate of Emirates Telecommunication Corp Ltd, have ceased operations since the court order, while others like Telenor and Idea Cellular bought airwaves in the November auction.
 
Sistema Shyam TeleServices said in a statement that the court will issue a separate order about its case but declined to give further details.
 
Sistema Shyam is set to lose all but one of its operating permits, although it has the option to bid for airwaves in an auction scheduled next month. It did not bid for airwaves in the November auction, saying the prices were too high.
 
Telenor is still operating in the lucrative Mumbai zone although its permit was revoked and has said it may decide to bid in a March auction for airwaves in the Mumbai zone.
 

In the November 2012 auction, five telecom operators -- Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Telenor-promoted Telewings, Videocon and Idea Cellular -- had applied for participating in the auctions.
 
Sistema Shyam Teleservices had not participated while Videocon won spectrum in six circles and Idea won spectrum in eight circles and Telenor got spectrum in six circles.
 
Earlier, the Centre had asked the court to consider allowing telecom operators, whose 2G licences were cancelled last year, to continue to operate after the January 18 deadline with a condition that they "will be liable to pay" for the spectrum as per the proposed price of the upcoming auction on March 11.
 
The DoT had stated its stand in an affidavit which assumes importance as the court has permitted the telecom operators to continue to operate till January 18.
 
The DoT had asked the apex court to consider allowing it to grant "temporary licences" to such operators till the completion of the fresh bidding process.
 
The court by its various interim orders had allowed the telecom companies whose licences were quashed by the verdict to continue with the operation till the fresh auction for 2G spectrum was completed.
 
(Agencies)


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