Airtel can’t enrol new 3G phone users in seven circles

New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) In a setback to Bharti Airtel, the Supreme Court Thursday restrained the company from enrolling new subscribers and extending to them 3G services in seven circles where it does not have licences.

An apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Vikramajit Sen restrained Bharti Airtel in response to a plea of Reliance Communications to this effect.

But, in a breather, the court said that the Department of Telecommunications will not take any coercive steps against Bharti Airtel for not paying the penalty of Rs.350 crore, imposed on it for providing 3G in seven circles.

The apex court order came in the wake of the hearing of a petition by Bharti Airtel that challenged the Delhi High Court order, in which it had restored the DoT order asking the company to immediately stop providing 3G services to customers in circles where it did not have licence for such operations.

The DoT had termed as illegal the roaming arrangement between Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, by which Bharti Airtel was extending 3G facilities to customers in the seven circles where it did not hold the licences to operate such services.

The court said that it would hold the next hearing of the matter on May 9.

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