New Delhi: Mobile phone company S Tel Pvt. Ltd told the Supreme Court (SC) it wouldn’t pursue its case against a decision by the department of telecommunications (DoT) to advance a deadline for new licence applications for radio spectrum in 2007 by a week.
S Tel said in its affidavit before the apex court on Friday that since its rivals had already got a headstart of two-and-a-half years, it was no longer interested in competing with them as the business scenario had changed.
SC, while disposing of the case, said that it would not interfere with the high court order of November 2009, which had gone in favour of S Tel.
“The appellant (DoT) has been unable to show that its decision to revise the cut-off date after receiving the application of the respondent (S Tel) was based on some rational criteria,” the high court had said, upholding an earlier decision by its single bench to quash DoT’s move to advance the cut-off date. “It is vulnerable to being labelled arbitrary and irrational.”
DoT, which filed an appeal in SC against that ruling, was represented by attorney general of India G.E. Vahanvati.
“As on today, S Tel is not pressing its application and we have consistently maintained that we are willing to consider the application of S Tel when we have sufficient spectrum,” Vahanvati told the court on Friday.
Meanwhile, in response to a query on whether DoT would challenge the high court’s ruling about the decision to advance the deadline, Vahanvati said the “high court judgement has become infructuous since S Tel has itself asked for a compromise”.
S Tel told the court that it would revisit its business strategy for the 16 telecom service areas it had sought to apply for and “decide on partaking in the business of providing services in all or a chosen few of the said circles”. The company, which currently operates in five circles, said average revenue has dropped from Rs275 in 2007 to Rs164 and the business has become overcrowded
DoT’s move to advance the deadline in 2007 (from 1 October to 25 September) caught more than 20 applicants—including S Tel, AT&T and the Hinduja Group, who had applied for a total of more than 110 licences—by surprise as they had applied after the revised cut-off date.
S Tel officials declined to comment saying that they were yet to receive a copy of the order.