TDSAT reserves order on COAI plea to cancel TTSL, TTML licences
New Delhi: Telecom tribunal TDSAT Thursday reserved its order on the maintainability of a petition filed by GSM industry body COAI and Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular seeking cancellation of GSM licences and spectrum of Tata group companies TTSL and TTML allotted in 2008.
The decision came after a brief hearing by TDSAT bench headed by its Chairman Justice S B Sinha.
During the proceedings, the counsel appearing for Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) alleged that the government had implemented the February 2 judgement of Supreme Court "selectively" and cancelled 122 licences issued only to new operators.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the COAI and the GSM operators, said "The DoT (Department of Telecommunications) acted on the Supreme Court judgement selectively. The Supreme Court judgment is crystal clear and all licences issued in 2008 should be cancelled".
However, senior advocates Aman Lekhi and Manjoor Ali -- appearing on behalf of Tata Tele Services Ltd (TTSL) and Tata Tele Service Maharashtra (TTML) -- questioned the maintainability of the petition.
The apex court order only applies to those licences which were issued under first-come, first-serve policy, they said.
"The Supreme Court has struck the first-come, first-serve policy, because it was arbitrary. Policy of 2007 (dual- technology) was not an issue before the Supreme Court," said Tata's counsel, adding the companies were granted GSM spectrum under DoT's dual-technology regime of 2007.
They further said TDSAT has already decided in their favour of dual-technology regime and the matter is now pending before the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, DoT's counsel Ruchir Mishra said the government has already sent a Presidential Reference seeking clarification on the issues.
He further said that in the reference sent to the Supreme Court, the government has sought clarification on the spectrum alloted in 2006 and 2007 as well.
However, senior counsel Maninder Singh, appearing for COAI, said that apex court has also imposed a fine of Rs 5 crore on the Tata group firms and other operators.
In their petition, the COAI and the operators have requested the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate (TDSAT) to direct the DoT to modify or amend the order that it had issued on February 15, cancelling 122 licences following the Supreme Court verdict in the 2G spectrum allocation case.
"Under the judgement, all blocks of spectrum allocations which were pursuant and subsequent to the two press releases dated January 10, 2008 were quashed," they said.
The petition sought cancellation of a total of 141 licenses including that of Tata Tele Services Ltd (TTSL) and Tata Tele Service Maharashtra (TTML) as the apex court had ordered cancellation of all licences issued in 2008 by then Telecom Minister A Raja.