Vodafone’s 20-year licences in six circles, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh (East), will expire in December 2015.
Accusing Vodafone Cellular of concealment of material facts, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has requested the Supreme Court to dismiss with costs the telecom company’s petition for extension of licences in six circles by another 10 years.
Vodafone’s 20-year licences in these circles, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh (East) will expire in December 2015 and the company has sought extension by another 10 years, reportedly in line with the terms mentioned in original licence. Submitting its affidavit which will come up for hearing on Friday, the DoT, however, opposed such extension, saying Vodafone’s contention regarding making investments on the basis of a reasonable expectation of extension by another 10 years was “demonstrably false”.
It cited a civil appeal filed by the telecom major which was heard in February 2014 and the court rejected its plea to stay auction of the spectrum that would become available upon expiration of the licence held by Vodafone and other companies. “The said auction was subsequently held in February 2014. The petitioners/its group companies participated in the auction and acquired spectrum…the present proceedings are a collateral attempt to secure orders which they/their group companies have been unable to obtain in the civil appeal,” DoT said.
It contended that Vodafone was guilty of concealing from the court rejection of its plea to stall the auction.
Asserting the government’s power to frame policy to regulate telecom, DoT stated that Vodafone has sought to challenge a policy decision to delink spectrum from telecom licences, which gave effect to the Supreme Court judgement in 2G case, mandating auction as the method to allocate spectrum.
It added: “The petitioners, in the instant case, in effect seek to obtain spectrum without participating in an auction process and seek, in effect, immunity from the competitive process which all other players are subject to. If the unjustified claims of the petitioners are countenanced, it would amount to grant of spectrum which otherwise is to be auctioned and revenues running into thousand crores of rupees would be generated, which obviously is in the public interest.”
Referring to the contract between the parties, it said that the terms were unequivocal that extension could happen only on mutually agreed terms and that decision of DoT would be final.