SC issues notice to 11 telecom companies, Centre

SC issues notice to 11 telecom companies, Centre

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday took cognisance of a public interest litigation (PIL) to cancel 2G licences that were issued in 2008 and served notices to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the Trai and 11 telecom companies.

The companies, the Trai and the Union government have to respond to the court before 1 February 2011, which is when the court will next hear the matter.

Telcos served notice are Etisalat, Unitech Wireless Group, Loop Telecom, Videcon Telecommunications, STel Ltd, Allianz Infratech, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Sistema Shyam Teleserrvices, Dishnet Wireless and Aircel, Vodafone and Essar South Ltd.

Clickhere to read the 2G issue in detail

The PIL was filed by lawyer Prashant Bhushan on behalf of the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and others. The petitioners demanded that licences of those companies who failed to comply with their roll out obligations within set time frames by the licences be cancelled.

The bench comprising Justices G.S Singhvi and Ashok Kumar Ganguly demanded that the Trai be made party to the proceedings.

The court took up the matter based on a letter dated 18 November 2010 from Trai to DoT secretary, which asked the government to cancel the licences of companies who had failed to comply with their licence obligations.

DoT has already collected 93 crores as fines and penalty for delaying roll out obligations. These fines are consequence of show cause notices sent by DoT early December 2010 to the companies. However, the DoT is yet to cancel any licences.

On issue of cancellations, the companies have time till mid-February to respond.

Earlier, the same bench of the court had decided to monitor the CBI investigation into the 2G spectrum licence issue based on a PIL by the same petitioners. The court’s blueprint for the investigation mandates that the CBI is to investigate various issues from 2001 to 2008.