The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal on Friday dismissed government’s plea challenging its jurisdiction to decide on 3G roaming dispute, but directed operators to submit copies of their agreements to the Department of Telecom (DoT).
Dismissing the application, a two-member bench headed by justice S.B. Sinha held that the tribunal has power to decide over DoT’s direction on intra-circle 3G roaming agreements among operators.
“We are of the opinion that this tribunal (the TDSAT) has jurisdiction to decide on this matter (3G roaming dispute). Thus, the applications are dismissed,” the bench said.
The tribunal also directed five operators — Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tata Tele — to hand over copies of their 3G roaming agreements to the DoT. It also said that DoT, as per its earlier statement, would maintain confidentiality of the agreements.
The DoT had questioned the jurisdiction of the TDSAT saying that the tribunal has no power to look into the licence terms and conditions entered among the operators and the DoT.
The department had requested the TDSAT to provide copies of agreements on 3G roaming among private operators, a move that was opposed by them fearing leakage of commercial information to rivals.
The TDSAT had also gave a lifeline to private telecom operators by extending its interim order that restrained DoT from taking any coercive action against them.
Last year, passing an order on December 24, 2011 the tribunal had directed the DoT not to take any coercive action against telecom operators.
A day prior to that the government had asked five telecom operators to stop their inter circle roaming on 3G bandwidth within 24 hours and it was challenged by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tata Tele before the TDSAT.