2G: SC extends deadline for telecom firms to operate

New Delhi, Jan. 15 -- The Supreme Court on Monday extended the deadline for telecom operators whose licences got quashed post February 2012 verdict, declaring 2G spectrum allocated during the tenure of former telecom minister A Raja as illegal.

On the Centre's plea, a special bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice KS Radhakrishnan agreed to extend the deadline from January 18 to February 4, the next date of hearing, but, made it clear that it would not grant further extension to those operators who neither participated during the last 2G auction nor intended to in the forthcoming one in March.

Asking the Centre to place reserve price for the upcoming auction in a sealed cover before it, the bench observed the telecom operators had enjoyed the benefit of its order to continue with operations till the fresh auction. They were, it said, therefore liable to pay the reserved price after January 18, 2013.

"We want to know what the price is. Put it in a sealed envelope what is the amount to be paid (by the existing operators of 2G) after our order of February 2, 2012," the court told Centre's counsel PP Rao. The Centre hinted at the possibility of reducing the reserve price in its second 2G auction.

The SC had on February 2 last cancelled 122 licences and had directed the DoT to hold fresh auction in four months. As the Centre failed to conduct the auction within this period, it has been seeking extension for the operators who had lost their licences after the verdict.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.