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SC Dismisses DoT Plea Against TDSAT Order In RCom Spectrum Sale Case

The Supreme Court July 2 rejected a petition of the telecom department against a TDSAT order which had fixed the liability of past dues related to Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) on Reliance Communications(RCom). The top court said the Department of Telecom (DoT) plea was without any merit and dismissed it.

In February 26 order, the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) said the liability of past SUC dues rested only with RCom and not Reliance Jio which was looking to buy the firm’s 800 MHZ spectrum.

A bench of Justices R F Nariman and Surya Kant said that there was no merit in the DoT plea against the TDSAT order.

Additional Solicitor General Vikramjeet Banerjee, appearing for the DoT, said the tribunal had asked the department to reconsider RCom’s plea for ‘No Objection Certificate’ which would allow the company to sell its spectrum.

The Centre said that the tribunal has exceeded its jurisdiction in interpreting the ‘Guidelines for Trading of Access Spectrum by Access Service Providers’ and by ignoring earlier observation of the apex court.

It said, “By virtue of the exclusive privilege granted under section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885, the Central government may grant a license, on such considerations and such payments as it thinks fit, to any person to establish, maintain or work a telegraph. This subsumes the permission for transfer of the resource spectrum from one entity to another”.

Before the TDSAT, the RCom had sought clarification of spectrum trading rules after the DoT denied it the NOC by citing that either the company or the buyer of its spectrum would have to give an undertaking that they would be liable for past dues.

Earlier, DoT had insisted that RCom furnish a bank guarantees worth Rs 3,000 crore. It had rejected the company’s offer to pledge land to cover the amount.

RCom has now come under insolvency proceedings for failing to pay debts worth Rs 46,000 crore.―Money Control

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