The 3G roaming pact issue between the government and the leading telcos continues to linger on with the tribunal TDSAT on Tuesday reserving its ruling on former’s plea challenging sectoral tribunal’s jurisdiction to hear petitions on the issue.
The major telcos like Bharti, Vodafone, Idea, Tatas and Aircel had moved TDSAT on DoT’s order to scrap the 3G roaming pacts between the private operators. The government in December last year had called these pacts illegal. The telcos in sharp reaction called the government’s move as arbitrary and illogical.
But as demanded by DoT, the tribunal felt that copies of agreements on 3G roaming to the DoT should be given to the government with telcos insisting that in such a case the government would have to maintain the confidentiality of these pacts. Earlier they had refused to share the copies of agreements with DoT.
The telcos also got a breather with asking the DoT not to take any coercive action against them till the futher order."Till further order, interim order of December 24 to continue," it said.
Challenging the TDSAT’s jurisdiction additional Solicitor General A S Chandiok, representing DoT,said that the operators must be a licence holder for 3G and if they do not have, then they fall out of your jurisdiction. They are asking for determination of contractual right, which is beyond jurisdiction.
"They must be a licence holder for 3G and if they do not have, then they fall out of your jurisdiction. They are asking for determination of contractual right, which is beyond jurisdiction," he said .
DoT said that a licencee (operator) cannot challenge the licence terms. But the counsel of one of the operators said that Section 14 of the TRAI Act gives the tribunal power to adjudicate on such dispute.
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular had got breather on January 3 after Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal TDSAT) has deferred the hearing on their plea against govt decision to scrap 3G roaming till January 9.
“The DoT as a licensor should be aware that there is no 2G or 3G licence and the licence is common under UASL. This basic and fundamental error of perception colours the entire prospective and action of DoT,” said the operators.
The government is of the view that operators have violated certain terms and conditions of Cellular Mobile Telecom Service License and various terms and conditions of the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) dated 25.02.2010 for 3G/BWA Auction by forging 3G pacts between themselves.
The major telcos like Airtel, Vodafone, Aircel, Tata and Idea on January 28 had moved the tribunal TDSAT challenging the DoT’s decision which called the 3G roaming pacts illegal.
The operators had reacted sharply saying the decision to scrap the 3G pacts was arbitrary and illogical. While TDSAT stayed the DoT’s decision, it deferred the hearing for January 3.
DoT in its affidavit to the tribunal took strong exception to telco’s criticism on the issue saying that they had suppressed certain facts and material documents regarding agreements while presenting its case before TDSAT. “They have not with clean hands”, the affidavit said.
“Inspite of the directions by this Tribunal vide order dated December 24, 2011, the petitioners (operators) have not submitted the intra-circle roaming agreements entered into with various telecom service providers. The present petition is liable to be dismissed on this ground alone", the affidavit further said.