SC dismisses plea for cancelling Reliance Jio’s 4G license

mobile tower
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) seeking cancellation of Reliance Jio’s 4G license on several counts including adverse comments in a draft CAG report.

The CPIL had contended that Reliance Jio Infocomm, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries (RIL) promoted by Mukesh Ambani, was given 4G licence for data services and not for voice telephony which it was permitted latter.

Dismissing the plea, the bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur, Justice AK Sikri and Justice R Banumathi said: “We find no merit in this writ petition which is, accordingly, dismissed.”

While dismissing the plea by the NGO CPIL left, for now, it left the matter on spectrum user charges (SUC) to the government.

The court noted that the SUC charge was retained at one percent, after the then attorney general in his legal opinion had opined that SUC charge be retained at 1 percent for BWA operators. The court also noted that on the question revenue segregation, a report of the committee set up for it was under consideration and the final decision is expected to be taken in two months.

Referring to the submissions by the government, the court said that the “main consideration that prevailed with the government in keeping the SUC at 1 percent of AGR was that BWA spectrum was to be used for rural development”.

Having recorded this, the court said: “In view of the aforesaid developments, for the time being, we leave the matter to the government to take an appropriate decision in this behalf.”

Addressing the contention by CPIL that CAG in its draft report had adversely commented on the issue, the court said: “It would be suffice to point out that the basic error committed by CAG was to compare 3G and BWA (4G) spectrum which mistake was realised in preparing the final report.”

The CAG in its draft report had put the loss to exchequer at Rs 22,842 crore but same came down to Rs 3,367 crore in its final report.

Referring to the growth of data service over the voice telephony, the court said: “What cannot be disputed is that main source of income for mobile companies is data services and not voice telephone services. This needs to be borne in mind while testing the argument of the petitioner.”