High Court dismisses Centre's contempt plea against Kumar Mangalam Birla

Updated: Oct 30 2014, 15:27pm hrs
The Delhi High Court today dismissed the Centre's contempt plea against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of Aditya Birla Group, for the group company Idea Cellular's alleged violation of a court order not to add new customers for providing 3G telecom services.

Justice V K Shali rejected the contempt petition of the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) saying the April 12, 2013 order of the high court directing Idea not to add new customers for providing 3G services outside their licence areas by entering into intra-circle roaming (ICR) pact with other telecom firms, is "ambiguous".

Justice Shali said the aspect of "any new customer" is ambiguous as it could also include existing 2G subscribers who want to avail 3G services.

The court also observed that the legality of ICR pacts had been upheld by the telecom tribunal TDSAT after the entire matter was transferred to it by the Supreme Court.

The DoT had filed the contempt petition in 2013 saying Idea had provided 3G services to several of its customers in violation of court orders.

The high court had on April 12, 2013, held the ICR pacts as illegal.

The TDSAT had on April 29, 2014, upheld the pleas of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular to provide 3G intra-circle roaming services, while also quashing the cumulative penalty of Rs 1,200 crore imposed on them by the DoT.

The Tribunal held that the 3G ICR agreement signed by Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular is not violative of licence agreement.

Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular had approached TDSAT in 2011 against a Department of Telecom order to stop 3G intra-circle roaming agreement under which they had also agreed to acquire customers in area where they did not win spectrum.