New Delhi: Rejecting charges of favouring Reliance Communications, telecom minister Kapil Sibal on Friday insisted that the penalty of Rs 5 crore imposed on it for interrupting services briefly was as per the agreement between USO Fund and the private operator.
He dismissed as “malicious, motivated and defamatory” the charges levelled against him by an NGO in a PIL filed in the Supreme Court that the company was imposed the penalty of Rs 5 crore against the Rs 650 crore as a favour.
Addressing a press conference here a day after the petition was filed, Sibal questioned the basis for computing the penalty as Rs 650 crore whereas the USO Fund itself had recommended a penalty of up to Rs 50 crore only.
“I am deeply grieved by what is happening by the PIL filed by an NGO in the Supreme Court stating that telecom minister has abused his power to reduce penalty on Reliance Telecom to Rs 5 crore,” an agitated minister said, adding that PILs should not be “used to settle personal score”.
Giving details of the issue, he said Reliance Telecom services were switched off for “whatever reasons” in November 2010 and on 21 December, a show cause notice was issued to the company threatening imposition of “lumpsum” amount of Rs 50 crore as penalty for the same.
“The notice for Rs 50 crore was to pressurise the Reliance Telecom.... They got worried,” Sibal said, adding finally the services were restored on 16 February, this year and the company paid a penalty of Rs 5.5 crore.
He maintained that the penalty was calculated on the basis of duration of disruption of services (7-45 days) as provided in the agreement between USO Fund and RCom.