Uninor moves apex court on telecom regulator?s auction proposals
Code division multiple access, or CDMA, player Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd (SSTL), whose licences have been ordered cancelled by the Supreme Court along with other companies, today filed a curative petition in the court to re-examine the cancellation of its 21 telecom licences. A curative petition is filed after the dismissal of a review plea and is heard by three senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.
Uninor, another impacted player, also filed an application in the apex court against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai)’s recommendations on spectrum auction, saying the proposals were against the spirit of its orders. The company, a joint venture between Norway’s Telenor and India’s real estate company Unitech Group, got the SC permission on Tuesday to file an interim application against Trai’s recommendations.
SSTL said in a statement, “It has filed the curative petition before the Supreme Court. We are hopeful the highest court of the land will look into the merits of the SSTL case and consider it accordingly.”
“SSTL has consistently maintained that being a pure play CDMA operator, its legal case is significantly different compared to other mobile operators. There is no finding or suggestion by the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) report that CDMA spectrum was equally or anywhere near in demand as GSM back in 2008,” the company, a joint venture of Russia’s Sistema and India’s Shyam Telelink, said. It has 16 million customers and 3,500 employees in India. It has so far invested Rs 15,000 crore.
Uninor said in a statement, “We are praying to the Supreme Court to ensure that its orders are fully and accurately complied with. While the court enabled new operators to continue after procuring fresh licences and spectrum through auctions, the recommendations are asking for all but one new operator to be evicted. The court ordered an auction, whereas the recommendations are simply conducting a price discovery test with 5 MHz spectrum and not a legitimate auction.”
In early April, the apex court had rejected review petitions of all the impacted telecom companies. In February, it had ordered the cancellation of 122 licences issued in 2008 by then telecom minister A Raja.
Uninor said the SC ordered for fresh licences to be auctioned in four months, while the recommendations, taking advantage of the order, were attempting to complicate a straightforward task with regulatory planning for 20 years. Uninor has 42 million users and 17,500 employees.
Telenor had said it would be forced to exit India, if Trai’s proposals on spectrum auction were accepted. “If these recommendations become policy, then the Government of India will be forcing the Telenor Group to exit. It will be almost impossible for us to participate in the upcoming auctions,” Telenor Group Executive Vice-President Sigve Brekke had said.
Earlier this week, Telenor wrote off fixed and intangible assets worth Rs3,583 crore in India. With this, it wrote down investments of Rs7,403 crore in two tranches in its Indian mobile arm.
The telecom industry is against the high reserve price proposed by Trai. Telecom players claim mobile call rates would go up by 100 per cent, if the telecom regulator’s proposals were accepted.
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