Government starts final arguments in 3G roaming case
The government started final arguments before telecom tribunal TDSAT to justify DoT’s direction to private operators to stop intra/inter circle roaming on 3G networks.
The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal refused, however, to entertain the plea of an advocate Yakesh Anand, to allow it to be an intervener in the matter.
The TDSAT bench, headed by its Chairman Justice S B Sinha, told Anand that the matter was part-heard earlier and it can’t allow him to be a party in the case at this stage.
The Delhi High Court is already hearing a writ petition filed by Anand alleging misuse of 3G spectrum licensing conditions by various operators, including Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone, causing huge loss to the exchequer.
Earlier, TDSAT had allowed the plea of state-owned telecom firm BSNL to be a party in the dispute.
During the proceedings, Additional Solicitor General A S Chandiok – representing the government – said that DoT has right to pass such directions to the operators.
He opposed the contentions of the operators that they do not need a separate licence from DoT to provide 3G services in the circles where they already have 2G network.
The government will continue its arguments tomorrow. The tribunal was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by the operators – Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tata Tele – challenging the December 23 directions of DoT to scrap their roaming pacts within 24 hours.
In an interim order on December 24, TDSAT had asked DoT not to take any coercive action against the operators till further orders for their 3G roaming pacts.
On February 16, the tribunal had asked them to explain as to how they would compensate the government if they lose the case.