Concerned over the impact of the recent Supreme Court verdict cancelling 122 2G licences, Norwegian IT Minister Rigmor Aasrud has sought an appointment with her Indian counterpart to discuss the issue as the government braces itself up for diplomatic parleys.
Ms. Aasrud, Norwegian Minister of government administration, IT and church reforms, arrived in the national capital on Sunday on a “pre-scheduled visit”.
“The visit had been planned for more than a month. She is going to Bangalore to visit some of our e-governance institutes there, technology institutions among others,” a senior government official said.
Noting that she has requested for a meeting with her Indian counterpart, the official said this would be the first instance of the issue being taken up diplomatically.
He was responding if the countries’ affected by the verdict have taken it up with New Delhi diplomatically.
“I do not know when they would be meeting as of now. She has requested for this meeting,” the official said.
Asked if the appointment with Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal was sought recently, the official said, “It is a recent thing.”
Meanwhile, Uninor, a joint venture between Telenor of Norway and Unitech, has said the company will participate in 2G spectrum auction but did not rule out the exit option from the Indian market.
The licence of Uninor, along with other new operators, has been cancelled after the Supreme Court’s judgement last week on the basis that all 122 2G licences were issued illegally in January 2008 by former Telecom Minister A. Raja.
Uninor claims to have invested over Rs. 14,000 crore in Indian operations and has a subscriber base of nearly 40 million as of now.
The senior official said the government is yet to hear from other affected countries through diplomatic channels over the issue.
However, the government is ready to discuss with its foreign friends how it is taking this (auction) process forward, the official said.
Sources pointed out that India, like Norway, is wedded to the rule of law.
“We hope that our Norwegian friends would appreciate that this is an outcome of a legal process,” the source said.