COAI in dilemma, whether to challenge HC verdict

COAI in dilemma, whether to challenge HC verdict
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First Published: Sun, Aug 24 2008. 04 36 PM IST
Updated: Sun, Aug 24 2008. 04 36 PM IST
PTI
New Delhi: Stung by outright rejection of GSM operators’ petition challenging government’s policy on dual technology and revised spectrum allocation norms, the COAI is in dilemma whether to challenge the Delhi High Court’s verdict to larger Bench or wait for telecom tribunal TDSAT’s verdict.
The members of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) are examining the Delhi High Court’s judgement and a decision would be taken in a day or two, sources close the development said.
COAI had questioned the events of October 18 and 19, 2007, and said that the Department of Telecom had shown undue haste and hurry in which an in-principle approval was given to Reliance Communications for offering GSM services.
This was, however, rejected by the Delhi High Court in its judgement last week.
“Prima facie, it cannot be held that the decision of the government confers any unfair advantage to any particular person and consequently the submission that the government has disturbed the level playing field has to be rejected,” Justice Gita Mittal had said in the judgement.
A senior official in the DoT said that it was strange on part of the GSM lobby to question government’s act as the spectrum was first allocated to the existing GSM operators in various circles and this was also presented in the TDSAT last week. DoT counsel had said that spectrum was allocated in orderly manner and existing players have been beneficiary of this.
“The TDSAT is admittedly seized of and is competent to examine the entire matter relating to the decision to permit cross over of the technology,“ the Delhi Court had said. With this in mind, the members of the COAI are in big dilemma that whether to challenge the verdict or not.
In TDSAT also, the government had refuted GSM players’ allegation that policy of dual technology has eaten into their quota of additional spectrum, the DoT had said that the air waves have been allocated in an orderly manner and the needs of existing players have been addressed ahead of others.
Leading GSM operators, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, have been given additional or fresh spectrum, since October 23, 2007, when the COAI challenged the government’s new policy.
According to the DoT, Bharti has been allocated additional spectrum in West Bengal, Assam, UP (West), twice in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Vodafone was also allotted in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Besides, Vodafone and Idea have also been allocated initial start-up spectrum in various circles.
“The petition (by COAI) has been filed on October 23, 2007, upon misplaced apprehensions expressed by some quarters that all players in telecom industry would not be allotted spectrum in an orderly manner as per their respective entitlements,” Goolam Vahanvati, Solicitor General of India had said in the TDSAT on behalf of DoT.
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First Published: Sun, Aug 24 2008. 04 36 PM IST