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DoT may seek clarity from SC on 2G case

DoT may seek clarity from SC on 2G case

New Delhi: The department of telecommunications (DoT) is likely to file a petition with the Supreme Court (SC) seeking clarification on some issues relating to the 2 February ruling of the apex court that cancelled 122 telecom licences and spectrum allocated to nine companies.

“There are a number of issues that need clarification. These were discussed, but the meeting largely remained inconclusive as some key people could not make it," a senior official with knowledge of the matter said requesting anonymity.

Interestingly, DoT has asked for an opinion on the verdict from the attorney general, based on which the telecom companies affected by the case are expected to decide on whether to file a review petition. Government officials said, on condition of anonymity, that DoT was unlikely to file a review petition as that may delay the Centre’s initiatives to take the country’s telecom sector to the next stage of growth.

Sibal refused to comment on the deliberations, while Chandrashekhar said, “If anything happens, we will let you know."

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on 11 February discussed the impact of the apex court ruling with senior ministers. Sibal had last week stated that the government was studying the implications of the judgement as it affected other sectors as well.

“I have been saying this repeatedly that the impact of the judgement is far-reaching," Sibal said. “It has implications not only on the (telecom) sector, but on other sectors as well."

The apex court also directed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to draw up the auction process within the next two months and gave the affected companies four months to decide on their future course in light of the cancellations.

DoT officials, however, told Mint that an auction cannot be held within the next four months and a minimum of eight months is needed, while 13 months would be ideal.

As a consequence of the verdict, foreign partners of the various affected telcos have either decided to pull out or have started pursuing legal action against their Indian partners. The United Arab Emirates-based Emirates Telecommunications Corp., or Etisalat, announced this week that it was shutting its operations and pursuing legal action against its Indian partner company’s promoters, Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka.

Last week, Norway-based Telenor ASA announced that it had served a notice of indemnity and damages on its Indian partner, realty firm Unitech Ltd. Telenor has also announced that it is looking at forming a new Indian venture and transferring all the assets of its Indian venture to the new entity.

Last week, Bahrain-based Batelco announced that it was selling back its stake in Siva Group-promoted STel Pvt. Ltd for the same price at which it bought the stake in 2009.

shauvik.g@livemint.com

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