The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Tuesday said the issues pertaining to violation in licensing conditions could not be heard in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).
While defending its notice declaring 3G roaming agreements between private operators as ‘illegal', the DoT told TDSAT that it was in violation of licence agreements.
Defending the DoT's case before the telecom sector tribunal, Additional Solicitor-General A. S. Chandiok said it (TDSAT) had no jurisdiction to entertain the petitions that defended alteration in the licence terms and conditions. He pointed to a Supreme Court judgement that the tribunal could not entertain the petition of operators who were violating licence conditions. He also said that operators had still not complied with the interim order of TDSAT on December 24, directing them to handover the copies of their 3G roaming agreements.
The TDSAT, which has now listed the matter to January 9, 2011, has asked the DoT to file a separate application in this regard. It also asked the operators to file replies of the new application questioning its jurisdiction by Friday.
Meanwhile, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd., which is the only operator having pan-India 3G licensee, has asked TDSAT to make it a party in the case as its interests were most affected by this development. On this, TDSAT Chairman Justice S. B. Sinha said it should be decided only after deciding on the preliminary objections raised by the DoT. Five mobile operators — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices and Aircel — have challenged the government's decision declaring 3G intra-circle roaming agreements among themselves as ‘illegal' as they do not possess spectrum for operating in the circle for which they do not have a licence.