HC Saves Siemens Arm From Tripping Switch, For Now

New Delhi: | Updated: Oct 31 2002, 05:30am hrs
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday extended Siemens Public Communication Networks interface approval or licence granted to it for its GSM (global services for mobile communication) switch system which is to expire on October 31, 2002, till such time that a decision on the matter is taken by the ministry of commerce and industry.

According to a source, this action has saved several cellular operators from a breakdown as the company provides technical assistance and infrastructural equipment to most of them including Bharti.

Union government counsel Sanjay Jain informed the court that the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has taken some decision which has been recommended for approval. The matter is now pending with the ministry of commerce and industry which is likely to take a decision within the next two weeks, he added.

Senior counsel representing Siemens Rajiv Nayar requested the court to grant an extension of the approval in view of the fact that the application was pending consideration and the licence would expire on Thursday.

Justice Manmohan Sarin fixed the next date of hearing for November 22, by which time the concerned government department is expected to take a decision.

The difficulty in extending the approval came about due to a change in the government policy for grant of such approvals to vendors with foreign equity. Pending the decision, the approval was granted to Siemens for a period of six months which expires on Thursday. This is in view of the fact that Siemens Public Communication is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Siemens AG Germany. The department of telecommunications informed Siem-ens that approval to vendors with foreign equity would be given only if it obtained permission from a competent government authority like the Secretariat for Industrial Assistance or the Director General of Foreign Trade to carry out trading activities in India.

On being informed of this decision, Siemens moved an application in the Secretariat for Industrial Assistance for grant of approval. Later, Siemens moved another application in the telecommunications department for extension of the approval.