Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Govt panel proposes 99% rebate on telecom licence violations ,Suggests 29cr Penalties Against Maximum Of 3,000cr

New Delhi: Amid the debate over the revenue loss caused by the 2G scam, the government is planning to offer mobile operators a discount of over 99% on the maximum of Rs 3,000 crore in cumulative penalties to be levied on them for multiple violations of licence conditions.
A note prepared by the department of telecommunications (DoT) for a meeting of the full Telecom Commission (TC) has recommended that only Rs 28.85 crore be charged as penalty, which is less than 1% of the cumulative penalties of Rs 3,000 crore applicable under the licence agreement.
When contacted, telecom secretary R Chandrashekhar said the date for the Telecom Commission’s meeting was yet to be finalised. Over the past three years, several companies have come under the DoT’s scanner for violation of conditions (such as the national numbering plan and providing mobile services in border areas), based on which an internal committee submitted a report in October 2008. This report was considered by the internal telecom commission (ITC) in December 2008. Later, on December 24, 2008, a committee was formed by former telecom minister A Raja to evaluate the “scheme of financial penalty for violation of terms and conditions of licence agreement in respect of subscriber verification failure cases”.
In January 2009, the committee submitted its report recommending penalties to be charged for various violations by mobile operators. This report was placed before the ITC in February 2009. The ITC then reduced the penalties to Rs 11.68 crore or less than half. The ITC consists of only DoT officials as against the full TC, which has secretaries from finance, industry, the Planning Commission and I-T as members.
The matter was discussed at the July 7, 2010 meeting of the Telecom Commission. The commission directed that an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) under the chairmanship of member (telecom), with representatives from all stakeholders, be formed to evaluate the penalties and reductions recommended by the ITC report. These included middle and junior officials from the Planning Commission and ministries of commerce & industry, home and finance. The IMC deliberated the issue in five meetings and invited presentations from the mobile industry. Meanwhile, Raja resigned and Kapil Sibal took over as telecom minister in December 2010.

SC calls for DoT, S-Tel correspondence

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday called for all correspondence between Department of Telecom (DoT) and mobile phone service provider S-Tel after it was alleged that the company was arm-twisted in 2010 to drop its opposition to alleged arbitrary change in policy.
During the hearing on PILs seeking cancellation of all 122 spectrum licences, a Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly was told the cancellation order became a tool to arm-twist S-Tel into a compromise.
DoT’s March 5, 2010 order cancelling S-Tel’s licences forced the company to agree to the government’s offer in the Supreme Court that it would wait till additional spectrum was available.
S-Tel had applied for starting mobile services in 16 telecom circles in addition to the six it was already licensed for. The arbitrary switch of cutoff date for application for licence from October 1, 2007 to September 25, 2007, eliminated the company from the race.
The Bench was surprised by the timing of DoT’s decision and asked additional solicitor general Indira Jaising, who appeared for the Union government, to produce all correspondence exchanged between DoT and S-Tel during the relevant period.
Referring to a communication shown by petitioner’s counsel Prashant Bhushan, the Bench said, “By reading the letter as such, we felt what has happened. But it is only when seen in this background, the timing of the letter becomes important.” Jaising promised to place relevant official records before the Bench.
Other petitioner and Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy said after STel offered to wait for availability of additional spectrum, DoT on April 15, 2010 revoked the March 10 order cancelling its existing licences.
Swamy said that on S-Tel’s plea, the Delhi High Court had held that shifting of deadline from October 1, 2007 to September 25, 2007 by a January 8, 2008 press release was arbitrary and amounted to changing the rules of the game after play had begun.

No comments:

Post a Comment