TDSAT disposes Idea plea on merger of Spice licences

TDSAT disposes Idea plea on merger of Spice licences New Delhi: Telecom tribunal TDSAT has refused to go into the dispute between the government and Idea Cellular over the merger of six overlapping licences of Spice Communications saying that a direction has already been issued by the Delhi High Court in this regard.

Disposing of the petition filed by the Aditya Birla group firm, the TDSAT bench headed by its Chairman Justice S B Sinha said that in a recent order the Division bench of the High Court has passed direction to DoT to decide on the merger of licences within three months.

"We, therefore, are of the opinion that in view of the order passed by the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court in Company Appeal No 42 of 2011 read with the later portion of its order of the same date, it must be held, that the subject matter of this petition is covered by the decision of the Delhi High Court.

"In this view of the matter nothing survives in this Petition, which is disposed of accordingly," said the TDSAT.

Passing an order on July 13, a division bench of the High Court had said that dispute on transfer of Spice's six licences to Idea "shall be decided and determined by the TDSAT and the parties".

However, the division bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw had later added that the DoT would take a decision on transfer of licence within three months.

"Since we have upheld the order of the Company Judge except one modification, as per the order of the Company Judge, the DoT has to take decision regarding transfer of licences. The said decision shall be taken by the DoT within a period of three months," the division bench had added.

In January 2010, DoT had declined permission to Idea for merger of its licences with Spice Communications licences for six telecom circles - Haryana, Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab, Kartnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Idea had approached the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal on January 17, 2011.

TDSAT further said, "On a plain reading of the orders passed by the Company Judge as also the Division Bench of the High Court, we are of the opinion that direction of the learned Company Judge to the effect that as the DoT was to consider the question of the prayers of Idea with regard to merger of the licences, the said question need not be decided by the Tribunal as Idea has already filed appropriate applications therefor.

"Moreover, as indicated hereto before, the Division Bench itself has directed that the said application be disposed of within three months."

PTI