The Department of Telecommunications on Monday started issuing show-cause notices to mobile companies that allegedly suppressed information or gave false information to bag telecom licences in 2008. It has also started sending notices to licensees that failed to meet their roll-out obligations as per the licence agreement.
“We have started issuing show-cause notices to firms...we expect to complete the process in the next few days. The operators will be given 60 days to respond and each case would be dealt with separately. After studying their response, a decision will be taken on whether these [licences] need to be cancelled or a penalty be imposed,” Telecom Secretary R. Chandrasekhar told journalists here.
The DoT will serve show-cause notices in respect of 119 licences, involving nine companies. Of these, 81 licences fall under two categories, ineligibility to get licences as well as failing to meet roll-out obligations; while 38 notices pertain to roll-out obligations alone.
Notably, in its performance audit report on 2G spectrum allocation, the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India pointed out that out of 122 licences issued in 2008, 85 went to companies that were ineligible, while as many as nine real estate companies misrepresented facts to get the spectrum. The CAG has quantified a revenue loss of up to Rs.1.76-lakh crore in giving licences and spectrum at the 2001 price of Rs.1,651 crore for pan-India operations by the then Telecom Minister, A. Raja, in January 2008.
The companies that benefited from this allocation included Unitech Infrastructure, Unitech Builders and Estates, Azare Properties, Aska Projects, Volga Properties (all belonging to Unitech Group), Shipping Stop Dot Com Pvt. Ltd. (now Loop Telecom), Allianz Infratech (which later merged with Etisalat DB Telecom), Swan Telecom (now Etisalat DB Telecom), DataCom Solutions (now Videocon Telecommunications) and S Tel.