Department of Telecom (DoT) has sough the Attorney General Goolam Essaji Vahanvati’s opinion whether foreign telcos such as Russia’s MTS and Norway’s Telenor can take legal action against the government and claim damages under bilateral investment protection pacts (BIPA) in the backdrop of cancellation of 122 spectrum licences which were allotted in 2008 during the tenure of the former telecom minister A Raja.
Foreign telcos such as Russia’s Sistema and Norway’s Telenor and foreign investment funds such as KAIF Investments Mauritius and Capital Global Ltd (investors in Loop Telecom) have sent legal notices to the Indian government under the respective Bilateral Investment Promotion & Protection Agreement (BIPA) or Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
It has also asked whether foreign entities that invested in domestic companies whose promoters have been prosecuted on criminal charges can claim damages.
According to PTI, DoT has sought Attorney General's opinion on its (department's) stance that licence cancellation impacted both foreign and India investors equally and 'arose from an act of the court and not the government', and therefore did not fall under BIPA.
It has also asked the Attorney General (AG) to make it clear whether foreign investors can invoke these bilateral treaties from the date of licence cancellation or from the date the department moved a presidential reference in the Supreme Court. It further wants the AG to state whether foreign investors must first exhaust all other legal options before they can send notices under BIPA to the Indian government.