SC 'shut shop' order directly binding on telcos: DoT source

Feb 15 2013, 22:13 IST
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SummarySupreme Court refusing any relief to telecom companies which figured in the 122 licences cancelled in Feburary last year.

Telecom firms which did not win any mobile phone spectrum after their licences were cancelled by the Supreme Court, may have to the shut shop with immediate effect.

With Supreme Court refusing any relief to telecom companies which figured in the 122 licences cancelled in Feburary last year, the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) feels there is no scope left for firms that did not win any airwaves in the November spectrum auction.

"Prima facie it seems so that they (quashed licences) will have to immediately close down their operations. Supreme Court order is directly binding on them and we don't need to issue separate order for this. If they continue operations then it will be illegal," a source at DoT said.

The source, however, said that DoT can ascertain action to be taken by it only after it receives legal opinion from its team.

Post Supreme Court order of February 2, 2012, telecom companies Uninor, Sistema Shyam (SSTL), Videocon and Tata Teleservices (TTL) were allowed to continue operations to enable them to buy spectrum in the planned auction.

Out of these, only Uninor and Videocon participated in auction and won spectrum in 6 circles each. SSTL and TTL did not participate in the auction.

SSTL in a statement said that it has "filed an application dated January 10, 2013 in the Supreme Court saying that the company wants to continue its operations and intends to participate in upcoming auctions in March 2013. The Supreme Court is going to give a separate order on the same. The said order is awaited."

On SSTL, the DoT source said "from initial observation, it seems so (SSTL will have to close operations). There official statement is not binding on government unless court tells us something or there lawyer gives us in writing."

Government has also proposed before Supreme Court that will issue temporary licences for quashed permits who are interested to participate in March 2013 auction but the DoT source said the department will have to take legal opinion on the apex court's order to see if there is any scope to issue such licences.

"There is no change of intention but whether SC order permits it , will be known after legal opinion," the source said.

Following the court order, government may increase quantum of spectrum in four circles in 1800 MHz band for the upcoming auction to comply with Supreme Court order which directed it auction entire 2G spectrum freed through licences

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