DoT can initiate action against telcos over 3G ICR agreements: Law Ministry

Telecom Lead India: Leading Indian telcos including
Bharti, Vodafone and Idea, could face a major trouble, as the Indian law
ministry has given approval to the telecom department to initiate action over
violating license conditions.

These telcos entered into bilateral roaming agreements in
areas where they did not have 3G permits.

The Additional Solicitor General has said the government
cannot impose financial penalties on mobile phone companies for entering into
3G roaming agreements.

However, the Department of Telecom (DoT) will seek
clarity from the Additional Solicitor General regarding opinion.

Under current rules, the maximum penalty for license
violation is 50 crore per circle.

In an internal note DoT said that the first step should be to stop the
services being illegally provided otherwise ‘unjust enrichment’ will continue,
Economic Times reported.

The Additional Solicitor General responded to a DoT query
and said it was well within its rights to claim the amounts earned by companies
by providing 3G services for which they did not have any authorisation,
permission or license from the DoT.

Earlier, TDSAT had given a split judgement on this issue
following which the DoT sought advice of the law ministry.

Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal
(TDSAT) Chairman Justice SB Sinha ruled in favour of operators while tribunal
member PK Rastogi said telcos cannot provide high-end data services in areas
where they don’t hold airwaves.

In the 2010 auctions, Bharti, Vodafone and Idea won 3G
airwaves in 13, 9 and 11 circles respectively.

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