Vodafone has approached the Delhi High court against a “delay” in the signing of the unified licence by the Department of Telecommunications, and the use of “coercive steps” by the government to try and restrict intra-circle roaming pacts between telecom operators.
The company, which is the second-largest mobile service operator in the country, has in a plea filed before the high court alleged that DoT had “unreasonably and arbitrarily” delayed issuing the unified licence to Vodafone for its operations in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, and had inserted clauses into the licence document, restricting intra circle roaming.
Telecom firms Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Idea cellular had entered into intra-circle roaming (ICR) agreements, which had been upheld as legal by the TDSAT in April this year. Several legal issues arising out of the tussle between the telecom firms and the DoT over ICR are presently pending before various courts.
Vodafone’s 20 year licence to offer services in Delhi ends in November. It has won airwaves in an auction in February this year as a precondition to get a fresh licence but DoT had delayed giving the necessary approvals to the company. The dispute could potentially disrupt telecom services in Delhi.
According to the plea, Vodafone had spent nearly 17,000 crore in the auctions for the 20-year licence to operate in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. The company completed the conditions of acceptance and issued letters of intent to the DoT in September. However the unified licence was not given to Vodafone.
On November 3, licence offered to the company contained certain clauses restricting ICR.
Vodafone issued a letter to the DoT raising objections to the restrictive clauses and was told by the DoT that as the company had given “conditional compliance” the licence could not be issued.