Budget 2018: As many as 1.8 lakh cases are pending at the six appellate tribunals in the country with the average age of a case at 3.8 years, the Economic Survey 2017-18 revealed stating that the rise in pendency of cases in the telecom sector is on account of “interventions” by the Supreme Court. Even though the government and the judiciary have taken several steps to deal with delays, the survey said, pointing out that the economic activity is being affected by the “realities and long shadow of delays and pendency” across the legal landscape. The survey, which was tabled in Parliament on Monday, said that an analysis of six prominent appellate tribunals that deal exclusively with high stakes commercial matters reveal two patterns — first, there is a high level of pendency across the six tribunals, estimated at about 1.8 lakh cases and, second, pendency has risen sharply over time. Compared to 2012, there is now a 25% increase in the size of unresolved cases. The average age of pending cases across these tribunals is 3.8 years. The tribunals are TDSAT, APTEL, NGT, NCDRC, ITAT and CESTAT.
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“It is noteworthy that in two cases – telecommunications and electricity – the explosion in pendency resulted from interventions by the Supreme Court,” it said adding that pendency here means cases instituted but not disposed of, regardless of when they were instituted. The Economic Survey also pointed out the growing distress in the telecom, which has impacted not just the companies, but also lenders and investors. “However it is important to note that the telecom sector is going through a stress period with growing losses, debt pile, price war, reduced revenue and irrational spectrum costs… A new entrant has disrupted the market with low-cost data services and the revenue of incumbent players has fallen. The crisis has also severely impacted investors, lenders, partners and vendors of these telecom companies.
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However, on the brighter side, telecom was among the top performing sectors in FDI equity inflows attracting inflows of $6.1 billion in FY18 (April-October) against $5.6 billion during the entire FY17. It accounts for 8.4% of the total FDI equity inflows between April 2000 to October 2017. “The growth of India’s services sector is expected to improve in 2017-18 vis-a-vis 2016-17. The prospects look bright with good performance of sub sectors like Tourism, Aviation, and Telecom, robust services trade performance with even growth of major services like software returning to positive territory. The downward risk, however, lies in the external environment for software and business services,” the survey noted.