Centre,telcos get SC notice on excess spectrum

The Supreme Court sought the response of the Centre and seven telecom companies,including Bharti,Vodafone,Reliance and Idea Cellular

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: March 13, 2012 1:29 am

The Supreme Court on Monday sought the response of the Centre and seven telecom companies,including Bharti,Vodafone,Reliance and Idea Cellular,on why a petition challenging allotment of excess spectrum should not be transferred to the apex court from the Delhi High Court.

The bench of Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhyay gave four weeks’ time to the respondents to file their replies.

The petition was filed by an NGO,Telecom Watchdog,seeking cancellation of 2G spectrum beyond 2×4.5 MHz for metros and 2×4.4 MHz for other circles allocated to the telcos without charging additional fee.

The NGO sought to transfer the case,pending in the high court since 2008,to the Supreme Court.

Counsel for the petitioner told the court that since a similar issue raised by Supreme Court lawyer Yakesh Anand is pending in the apex court,its case should also be transferred.

The lawyer alleged that while allotting additional spectrum,the Centre ignored its own order of February 1,2002,which said that “additional allocation could be considered only after a suitable subscriber base,as may be prescribed,is reached.”

On January 30,the apex court had sought replies from the Centre and telecom firms on Anand’s plea alleging misuse of 2G spectrum licencing conditions by various private operators and causing loss of Rs 36,993 crore (CAG figures) to the exchequer.

Anand said the scarce spectrum was “illegally” distributed to telecom operators without charging any spectrum fee since 1996.

The high court,on December 21 last year,refused to hear his petition saying the apex court was monitoring the grant of 2G licences and,moreover,the trial in the case was on.

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