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SC issues notices to 11 telecom firms, Govt

CNN-IBN
Jan 10, 2011 at 11:58pm IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to 11 telecom companies, Department of Telecom (DoT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on a PIL seeking cancellation of 2G licences. The telecom companies which have been issued the notice are Etisalat, Uninor, Loop Telecom, Videocon, S-Tel, Allianz Infra, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Sistema Shyam Teleservices, Dishnet wireless and Vodafone-Essar.

The Supreme Court also expressed surprise that if telecom companies had not met the roll-out obligation why was no action taken against them.

"Why TRAI did not take action? It is the highest regulatory body, what were they doing," the two-judge bench comprising of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly asked.

The Supreme Court also said that the issue whether any revenue loss had occurred to the Government in grant of 2G licences was debatable and the Government of India would be asked whether it had suffered any loses.

All the 11 companies, DoT and TRAI have been asked to file their response within three week. The next date of hearing is on February 1, 2011.

Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy, who had filed the PIL, said that the entire process of granting 2G licence should be cancelled.

"The whole procedure is illegal of advancing the cut off date. We want the whole process of licences to be cancelled, that's a huge loss to the country. The whole process should begin again including auction," said Swamy.

"Both Prashant Bhushan and I had sought for the cancellation of licenses alloted by Raja (former telecom minister A Raja). I had filed an application which requested the court that Kapil Sibal should be restricted from dealing this case as he is protecting some of them," he said.

He claimed that Sibal had only put a minor fine on the defaulters.

"Court took a serious objection that TRAI has done nothing for such a long time and therefore directed that TRAI too be made a party and directed us to amend our petition. I had also asked the court to take a suo moto action against Sibal for rubbishing CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) report," he added.

A CAG report had claimed that the policies followed by Raja in granting 2G licences has resulted in a loss of about Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the national exchequer.

Bharatiya Janata Party said that the Government should now agree to an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC).

"We are quite happy that the Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the matter. The government should now agree for the JPC that we have been demanding," said BJP Spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad.

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