3G row: HC asks Bharti Airtel to respond to BSNL's plea
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday asked Bharti Airtel to respond to a plea of state-owned BSNL seeking to implead itself as a party to a plea filed by the private telecom major against imposition of penalty of Rs 350 crore for offering 3G services in areas where it lacked licenses.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued the notice to Bharti Airtel on the plea of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and posted the matter for further hearing on May 9.
BSNL is opposed to Bharti Airtel's plea against the order of the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) asking the private firm to stop providing 3G services by entering into intra-circle roaming (ICR) pacts with other telecom companies.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had directed the DoT not to take any coercive step against Bharti Airtel Ltd. It had also asked the telecom company not to extend its roaming services to new customers in seven circles where it does not have licenses for 3G spectrum.
The apex court is scheduled to hear the case on May 9.
Bharti Airtel Ltd had moved the apex court after the division bench of the High Court vacated its stay on the operation of a DoT notice against BCL for providing 3G services outside its licensed circles.
The DoT had on March 15 imposed a penalty of Rs 350 crore on Bharti Airtel, saying such ICR pacts were illegal and amounted to sub-letting of 3G spectrum.
The DoT had also issued similar orders to Vodafone and Idea directing them to scrap 3G intra-circle roaming pacts. A penalty of Rs 550 crore and Rs 300 crore respectively were imposed on them for alleged violation of 3G service license norms.
Vodafone and Idea have separately filed petitions in the Delhi High Court challenging the department's order on which the high court has passed an order identical to that passed by the apex court in Bharti Airtel's case.