The Department of Telecom (DoT) is likely to seek a legal opinion on whether foreign investors such as Sistema of Russia and Norway's Telenor can claim damages from India under bilateral investment protection treaties following the cancellation of their telecom licences.

DoT may seek the opinion of the Attorney General (AG), the nation's highest law officer, on whether cancellation of 2G licences by the Supreme Court order could be challenged under various bilateral treaties, sources privy to the development said.

DoT is also expected to seek AG's views on whether such foreign investors can claim damages from India for violation of the treaties and for failure to protect their investments.

The Supreme Court, in its order on February 2, quashed 122 telecom licences awarded in 2008 under the then Telecom Minister, A. Raja, terming them illegal.

This impacted operators such as Uninor, Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), Etisalat DB, Tata Teleservices, Idea Cellular and S Tel, which have foreign investments.

Since the order, foreign investors such as Bahrain Telecom (partner in S Tel) and Etisalat have announced closure of their operations in the country. On the other hand, Telenor (joint venture partner in Uninor) and Sistema (joint venture partner in SSTL) have invoked bilateral treaties to secure their investments in the country.

DoT has received representations from Unitech Wireless group companies, S Tel, Loop Mobile Telecom and Etisalat DB for protection of their investments.

As per DoT, major foreign investments have been directed through Russia, Singapore and Mauritius.

India has the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA) with the Russian Federation and Mauritius. While there is a Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement (CECA) with Singapore, a Comprehensive Co-operation Partnership Agreement exists with Japan.