The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea of Department of Telecom (DoT) seeking a stay on a TDSAT order and asked it to tell the bidders of GSM spectrum for the Punjab circle that the matter was sub-judice.
“It’s a fact that the matter is pending. Why hide from bidders? You tell the bidders that the matter is sub-judice. It’s a fact. You can’t hide the fact. Sorry, we don’t find any merit in the plea,” a bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices C Nagappan and A M Khanwilkar said.
Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, appearing for DoT, sought a stay on the TDSAT order saying the bidding process for the spectrum has begun.
He said these licenses do not have the right to extension and the interim order was passed after the auction process had started. “We can’t go to every bidders and say that the matter is pending,” Narasimha said.
To this, the bench, while rejecting the plea, said “you can’t withhold the fact that the matter is pending”.
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), in its interim order of September 29, had admitted the petition of Videocon Telecom and directed the DoT to make it abundantly clear to the bidders before the auction of GSM spectrum in Punjab Circle that the company has its license effective till September 30, 2017.
It had asked DOT to say that the petitioner’s matter regarding one-time extension for 10 years beyond the stipulated 20 years effective September 30, 1997 or alternatively proportionate refund from the one-time entry fee, was under disputed litigation.
Videocon Telecom in its plea before TDSAT has sought direction to DoT not to auction the band of the GSM spectrum already allocated to the company in Punjab circle in the auction being held now.
“Punjab is a very important circle for us and we are more than keen to continue our GSM business in Punjab. With our three million customers, we have a 10 per cent customer market share in the circle, and continuity of spectrum for next 10 years will be a big respite. We are simultaneously exploring the MVNO route to ensure business continuity in Punjab,” Videocon Telecom CEO Arvind Bali said in a statement.