SC shows the door to tainted telecom operators

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday said all telecom operators whose licences were cancelled and who had not bid for fresh licences should stop their services immediately.

The direction also applies to telecom operators who participated in the Nov 12, 2012 bidding and were unsuccessful.

The apex court bench of Justice G.S. singhvi and Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan also said that the order of auctioning airwaves did not apply to 900 MHz band. This was a virtual turnaround from its earlier position that spectrum in 900 MHz band too should have been auctioned.

The government had auctioned spectrum in 1800 and 800 MHz in the last round of auctioning of licences that were cancelled by the apex court Feb 2, 2012. The next round of auction is scheduled for March 2013.

The court also clarified that 83 licences got by the Tata Teleservices prior were not covered by its Feb 2, 2012, order cancelling 122 2G licences issued on or after Jan 10, 2008.

While asking the telecom service providers, who did not participate in Nov 12, 2012, bidding of cancelled 2G licences, to cease their operations, the court expressed its unhappiness with the government affidavit on auction.

It said that the affidavit did not reveal the quantum of spectrum that was being placed on the block for auction.

"We make it clear that 541 MHz of spectrum in 1800 and 800 MHz band freed up by the cancellation order will have to be auctioned," the court told the government.

The government had auctioned half of the spectrum that became available on account of cancellation of 122 3G licences in 22 circles.

While reserving its orders on other issues including on the price that service providers would be paying for continuing their services beyond four months after their licences were cancelled, the court said that orders would be passed March 12.

The court will March 4 take up for hearing Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy's petition seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Chennai and Singapore-based Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt. Ltd for filing defamation case against him in a Singapore court.

Swamy said Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's son Karti Palaniappan Chidambaram and daughter-in-law Srinidhi held equity in the India-based Advantage Strategic Consulting Pvt. Ltd. He has said that Advantage Singapore was wholly owned by Advantage India.

He alleged that the defamation case against him was filed by the Singapore-based company to deter him from pursuing litigation in India seeking the finance minister's prosecution for his alleged role in 2G scam.

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