COAI needs CJI nod to shift case to other Bench: Apex court

| Updated on: Feb 15, 2011
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A Supreme Court Bench hearing the 2G spectrum scam today told the GSM lobby group COAI to obtain permission from the Chief Justice of India to transfer its plea challenging the dual technology spectrum allocation policy of the Government.

A Bench comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr A.K. Ganguly told the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) that it could hear its plea only after the CJI permits them.

“Unless the order of CJI is on that, we would not take up the case,” the Bench said.

COAI’s plea is being heard by a separate Bench comprising Mr Justices Altamas Kabir and Mr Cyriac Joseph. However, the lobby has asked for its petition to be transferred before the Bench of Mr Justices G.S. Singhvi and Mr A.K. Ganguly.

The Bench of Mr Justices Singhvi and Ganguly has ordered a court-monitored probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate into the alleged scam involving the former Telecom Minister, Mr A. Raja, who, according to CAG report, has caused a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the exchequer.

During the last hearing on February 10, the Bench had asked the CBI to bring under its scanner corporate houses which were beneficiaries of the 2G spectrum scam without being influenced by their status — whether they are millionaires or on the Forbes rich list.

The COAI had approached the Supreme Court in 2009 challenging the judgment of telecom tribunal TDSAT, which upheld DoT’s (Department of Telecommunication) dual technology spectrum allocation policy. It had made DoT, TRAI, RCom, Tata Tele, HFCL Infotel Ltd and others as parties to its plea.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), on March 31, 2009, upheld DoT’s dual spectrum allocation policy allowing Anil Ambani group company RCom and Tata Tele — who operated the CDMA-based cellular services — to get GSM spectrum for operating their services.

The petition filed by COAI, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Spice Communications and Vodafone Essar said TDSAT wrongly upheld DoT’s decision to enhance the criteria for allocation of additional spectrum, besides upholding the dual spectrum allocation policy.

The plea charged that TDSAT failed to appreciate that cellular operators had a vested and accrued right to receive spectrum up to 15 MHz.

COAI said the National Telecom Policy of 1999, which was the basis of a contractual settlement between cellular operators and DoT, promised optimal and adequate spectrum to every operator and they were to get GSM spectrum up to 15 MHz at specified rates on a revenue-sharing basis.

DoT, on October 18, 2007, amended the telecom rules, allowing CDMA players to enter the GSM mobile space.

TDSAT stated that there was nothing irregular in granting 4.4 MHz as start-up spectrum to RCom and rejected the GSM lobby group’s contention that they have the right to hold spectrum up to 15 MHz.

Published on March 12, 2018

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