SC court orders telcos to shut operations by June 2

The Surpreme Court may have to suspend operations of telecom companies, who’s licences have been cancelled. A report by The Economic Times reveals that the 2G operations of these telcos will be suspended from June 2 and the government wouldn’t go ahead and seek an extension to a four month deadline. In the order passed on February 2, the court had cancelled 122 mobile permits, which were allotted in 2008. It had asked the government to issue new licenses via auctions within four months. The government has clarified that it would need at least 400 days to proceed with the auctions and the process wouldn’t complete before March next year. R Chandrashekar, telecom secretary has said that the operations of quashed licenses will have to stop on June 2, unless the court wants to give an extension.

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In all, seven companies had filed for review of petitions before the court. However, the Supreme court will not reconsider the cancelling of 122 telecom permits that were issued by former telecom minister, A Raja. Although the apex court will hold hearings on the review plea filed by the Centre, it will not consider extension petition of four-month deadline. Reportedly, an extension of the four-month deadline is also not part of the Presidential Reference that the Centre will make to the apex court.

“The telecom department’s (DoT) review petition largely seeks that portions of the SC ruling which appear to foray into the domain of the executive be set aside. In the clarification petition, we have pointed out there is a gap between the four-month deadline set by the SC and the 400 days we require for carrying out the auctions. Unless the apex court responds to this, or accepts curative petition of companies, operations will have to stop on June 2. The DoT is not seeking an extension,” revealed a DoT official as per the report.

The absence of any court directives, operators would have to suspend services till the new permits and airwaves are bagged in the upcoming auctions, he said further. This will affect millions of customers of Uninor, Sistema, Idea and Videocon. TRAI has also directed phone companies S Tel and Etisalat to continue operations until the licence validity expires.

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