TDSAT asks DoT not to take coercive action against Sistema

TDSAT asks DoT not to take coercive action against Sistema New Delhi: Telecom tribunal TDSAT Monday directed government not to take any coercive action against Sistema Shyam Teleservices in the dispute over inclusion of certain charges while calculating gross revenue for payment of license fee.

In its interim order, TDSAT also directed Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd (SSTL) to provide financial bank guarantee equivalent to the amount demanded by the Department of Telecom (DoT) in 15 circles within a week.

"Pending hearing on the interim prayer, it is directed that the respondent (DoT) will not take any coercive action for enforcement of its demand, however the petitioner (SSTL) will provide a bank guarantee within a week equivalent to the amount of demand in each circle, if the Financial Bank Guarantee to that extent is not subsisting in any circle," said TDSAT member P K Rastogi.

The tribunal also directed DoT to file its reply within 15 days and asked SSTL to file rejoinder in a week.

TDSAT's order came on a batch of 15 petitions filed by SSTL challenging the mode of calculation of gross revenue.

SSTL, a joint venture between Sistema of Russia and India?s Shyam Group, offers mobile and data services under the MTS brand.

Sistema owns 56.68 percent stake, Russian Government represented by Rosimushchestvo (Federal Agency for State Property Management) 17.14 percent and Shyam Telelink has 26.05 percent stake in SSTL.

Telecom operators have to pay a certain percentage of their revenue as their license fee to the government under adjusted gross revenue (AGR) system.

On October, 2012, DoT had raised a provisional assessment of annual licence fee for the financial year 2010-2011 and asked SSTL to pay Rs 12.94 crore.

It was challenged by SSTL before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on February 4, 2013 contending that DoT has wrongly included the public switched telephone network (PSTN) charges and roaming charges in the gross revenue, which are contrary to the licence conditions.

According to SSTL, DoT also wrongly included the revenue derived from interest income and miscellaneous income.

It was opposed by the DoT which submitted that deduction in the AGR for Rs 23.6 crores was disallowed as the proofs of such payment were not furnished.

DoT further said that SSTL's licences in all the circles, except Rajasthan, have been cancelled and government interest will be prejudiced, if any stay is granted.

However, the tribunal said, "It is necessary to know whether the PSTN charges and roaming charges for which the proof has been submitted by DoT, has been allowed for calculating the demand. It is necessary that DoT file reply before considering this matter."

The matter would now come on March 18 for next hearing.

PTI