No immediate SC relief for Bharti Airtel

Written by feBureau | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 6 2013, 07:57am hrs
The Supreme Court on Friday refused to give an immediate hearing to Bharti Airtel, which sought stay of the Delhi High Courts Thursdays order directing it to halt its 3G services immediately in circles where it did not have spectrum.

As senior counsels Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Soli Sorabjee mentioned the matter before the court, the apex court bench headed by Justice RM Lodha said that Bharti Airtels plea challenging the Delhi High Court order would be listed in the mentioning list on Monday. Even it said that Vodafones plea, seeking to be impleaded as a party in the case, can be listed for hearing in the mentioning list.

Requesting for urgent hearing, the counsel argued that the effects of the HC order are disastrous as 20 million subscribers, who have been getting 3G services for last two-and-a-half years, would be affected.

Singhvi said that Reliance Communications was never a party or an intervenor before the single judge, thus could not have gone to the division bench.

The division bench of the Delhi High Court on Thursday vacated the stay order granted to the company by a single judge bench on March 15 from stopping 3G intra-circle roaming in seven circles where it does not have spectrum. The vacation of the stay order followed a petition filed by rival Reliance Communications, which pleaded before the court that its business was getting affected by Bhartis move to provide roaming in circles where it does not have spectrum.

On March 15, the department of telecommunications had sent Bharti Airtel a notice to stop offering 3G roaming in areas where it did not have spectrum within 72 hours.

Airtel was also asked to pay a penalty of R350 crore for violating licence conditions by offering 3G services in seven circles where it did not win spectrum during the 2010 auctions. Airtel got a stay on the DoTs notice from a single-bench judge in the Delhi High Court on March 18,which allowed it to continue 3G services in circles where did not own spectrum until the next hearing, scheduled for May 8.