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SC verdict on 2G; cancels all 122 telecom licenses

New Delhi, Fri, 03 Feb 2012 NI Wire

In a major breakthrough on 2G-spectrum scam, the Supreme Court of India on Thursday ordered to cancel all the 122 Unified Access Service (UAS) Licences issued by erstwhile Telecom Minister A Raja, and stated, 'the Department of Telecom (DoT) had virtually gifted an important national asset at throw away prices.'

The functioning of the cancelled telecom companies' service would end in four months, directed the apex court while to protect the interest of the general public, it has directed to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the telecom regulator to make fresh recommendation of auction the telecom licenses within two months .

In India, there are only 71-million subscribers who are currently using the service of these private players, whose licences have been cancelled. To protect their interest SC has suggested the way of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) System. Using this system, the subscribers can switch their telecom operator available in their circle.

The telecom operators which licenses have been cancelled include Uninor (the collaboration of Norway's Telenor and Unitech Group), MTS (a joint venture of Russia's Sistema and Shyam Telecom), Etisalat DB (a JV between the UAE's Etisalat and Swan Telecom), S Tel, Videocon, Idea Cellular (only in few circles), Tata Teleservices (few circles), and Loop Telecom.

Moreover, SC has also slapped a fine of Rs.5-crore each to Tata Teleservices, Unitech Wireless Group and Etisalat DB for getting profit as a whole arbitrary and illegally receiving UAS licenses and 2G spectrum band allocation.

A fine of Rs. 50 lakh each has also been charged on Loop Telecom Ltd, S Tel Ltd, Allianz Infratech Ltd and Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd.

Giving the verdict, a bench of Justice G S Singhvi and Justice A K Ganguly said, "DoT has virtually gifted an important national asset at throw away prices."

The bench was giving a judgment of PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filled by Advocate Prashant Bhushan and Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy. A special court was set up during the hearing of these petitions last year.

The bench also slammed to telecom regulator TRAI for its non-transparent behaviour for allocating the 2G Spectrum band on First-Come-First-Served (FCFS) basis in the name of 'level playing field' without going through an auction process.

However, the case of erstwhile Finance Minister P Chidambaram will go on trial court and SC has thrown the ball in Patiyala House Trial Court, which verdict is scheduled to come on 04th February 2012.

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