Bharti Airtel plea against DoT demand: TDSAT reserves order

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Updated: April 30, 2019 6:49:58 AM

At the time of Telenor’s merger with Bharti Airtel, the DoT had raised a demand of `1,700 crore in bank guarantee, which was challenged by the company.

DoT has already given a conditional approval to the merger, asking the company to pay the charges.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has reserved its order on a plea by Bharti Airtel challenging the department of telecommunications (DoT) demand of `9,500 crore for clearing its merger with Tata Teleservices. The DoT had asked the company to deposit about `1,300 crore as a fee for merging of Chennai and Tamil Nadu circles and another about `8,200 crore in bank guarantee for one-time spectrum charges (OTSC).
A similar notice was also sent to Tata Teleservices. However, the company challenged both the demands in the tribunal, citing wrong calculation for the charge of Chennai circle. Regarding the OTSC, Airtel had earlier also challenged the demand when it acquired Telenor and got an order in its favour. DoT has already given a conditional approval to the merger, asking the company to pay the charges.

At the time of Telenor’s merger with Bharti Airtel, the DoT had raised a demand of `1,700 crore in bank guarantee, which was challenged by the company. After, TDSAT gave an order in favour of the company, the DoT approached the Supreme Court, which also asked the government to clear the merger without any payment. The DoT approved the merger in May last year.

Bharti announced its decision to acquire the consumer wireless business of Tata Teleservices in 2017. As part of the deal, Airtel will get 178.5 MHz spectrum (of which 71.3 MHz is liberalised) in the 850, 1800 and 2100 MHz bands across 19 circles. The customers of Tata Teleservices will also join Airtel network.

The National Company Law Tribunal in January had approved the merger on the condition that it would be subject to the approval by the DoT.

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