Giving some relief to mobile operators offering 3G roaming facility, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Saturday asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) not to take any “coercive steps” against them till the next date of hearing on January 3, 2012.

After a special hearing in the case filed by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular challenging the DoT's notice issued on Friday, which had termed the 3G intra-circle roaming (ICR) agreements as “illegal” and asked the companies to stop it with “immediate effect”, the TDSAT said: “Till the next date fixed [January 3, 2012], the respondent [DoT] is restrained from taking any coercive steps against petitioners [telecom companies] to enforce the impugned order dated December 23, 2011.”

The TDSAT also issued notice to the DoT, asking it to file a reply by December 31, 2011, besides asking the three telecom operators to file rejoinder over the DoT's reply within three days and submit their 3G ICR agreements.

The TDSAT also turned down the DoT's plea to restrain the operators from adding new 3G customers till the next hearing.

The tribunal directed that the matter be put up for framing of issues on February 2, 2012. It also allowed two other operators, Aircel and Tata Telecom, who had also entered roaming agreements but later terminated them, to become party to the case.