New Delhi: Reliance Communications has alleged DoT of adopting a discriminatory approach by demanding bank guarantee from the company for one-time spectrum charges, while approving the Vodafone-Idea Cellular merger without making a similar demand, sources said today.
In a letter dated 10 July, 2018, to telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan, debt-ridden telecom firm RCom referred to the conditional approval given to Idea Cellular and Vodafone India to go ahead with their merger deal without insisting on any bank guarantee against pending one-time spectrum charge from Vodafone.
“We request DoT not to adopt any such discriminatory, inconsistent and unfair stand against RCom as compared to a completely opposite and favourable stand for Vodafone, and to instead release the bank guarantees of ₹ 2000.1 crore immediately," RCom said.
The telecom department has demanded payment of ₹ 3,976 crore for one-time spectrum charge from Vodafone India, and a joint bank guarantee of ₹ 3,342 crore before it grants final approval for the merger. RCom said that DoT had insisted on bank guarantees against the disputed one-time spectrum charge from the company when it approached the government for liberalising spectrum in the 800 MHz band in December 2015. It said the DoT demanded bank guarantees despite the matter being sub judice.
“Not only that, the DoT has unilaterally increased the original one-time spectrum charge demand, without any hearing or process, based on subsequent auction prices," RCom alleged. The Anil Ambani-led firm has alleged that one-time spectrum charge dues of Vodafone are to the tune of ₹ 9,000 crore. Telecom tribunal TDSAT on July 3 directed DoT to return bank guarantees of ₹ 2,000 crore to RCom.
In the letter RCom asked the DoT to release its bank guarantees on direction of TDSAT without filing any petition on this matter before the Supreme Court.
Emails sent to RCom, Vodafone and DoT elicited no immediate reply on the issue.
Reliance Group companies have sued HT Media Ltd, Mint’s publisher, and nine others in the Bombay high court over a 2 October 2014 front-page story that they have disputed. HT Media is contesting the case.