Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal is learnt to have approved levying of Rs 650 crore penalty on Bharti Airtel for violating roaming norms in 13 service areas between 2003 and 2005.

“The Minister has approved penalty of Rs 650 crore on SLD (subscriber local dialing) matter,” a Telecom Ministry official said.

An internal committee of Department of Telecom had alleged that Bharti Airtel had continued to route national and international calls as local calls (SLD) under a scheme till 2005 despite being told to stop it in 2003.

This caused loss to the government exchequer and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), it said.

The official said “demand notice will be issued this week“.

When contacted a Bharti Airtel spokesperson said: “We have not received any communication from DoT in this regard and therefore would not be able to comment.”

The penalty on the company has been imposed after an internal committee of Department of Telecom said it found Bharti Airtel routing national and international calls as local calls (SLD) under a scheme till 2005 despite being told to stop it in 2003, causing loss to the government exchequer and state—run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL).

“Bharti Airtel had converted NLD/ILD (STD and ISD) calls into local calls. In this manner it has passed payment of licence fee and spectrum charges payment to the exchequer and also payment of ADC (Access Deficit Charge) to BSNL,” the report said.

It further said that the operator had not stopped the service at least up to June 2005 even after specific directions from the DoT was issued on June 20, 2003.

DoT panel said the company violated licence condition through contravention of national routing plan for calls and use of“unpermitted character” as key to use the service

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