SC to hear Bharti Airtel plea against DoT order Monday

New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) The Supreme Court said Friday it would hear Bharti Airtel’s petition challenging the Delhi High Court ruling restoring DoT’s order directing it to halt its roaming 3G services in seven circles where it does not have a licence.

As senior counsels Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Soli Sorabjee mentioned the matter before the court, a bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice J. Chelameswar said that Bharti Airtel’s plea challenging the Delhi High Court order would be listed in the mentioning list Monday.

A division bench of the Delhi High Court, on April 4, had vacated the stay of the Department of Delecommunication’s order by its single judge. The single judge March 18 stayed the operation of DoT’s March 15 order asking Bharti Airtel to stop its 3G operation that it was doing by way of roaming pacts with other telecom operators.

The high court order vacating the stay of DoT order came on the plea by Reliance Communication that contended that roaming pact that facilitated Bharti Airtel to provide 3G services even in areas where it did have licences was eating into its business interests and disturbing the level playing field.

The RCOM had conte4nded that while it paid huge money running into several thousand crores for getting licence to operate 3G services, Bharti Airtel was offering these services free in circles where it did not have licenced presence.

Soon after the 3G auction in 2010, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular entered into an arrangement to offer 3G services across the country.

DoT had held illegal the roaming pact. The DoT, while directing Bharti Airtel cease its 3G operations by way of roaming pact route with other telcom operators, had imposed a penalty of Rs.350 crore on it.

Reacting to the Delhi High Court’s order vacating the stay of the DoT’s order, Bharti Airtel said: “Bharti Airtel has always maintained the highest standards of compliance. We believe the 3G arrangements are in compliance with all applicable laws and licensing conditions. These arrangements are also hugely beneficial to customers and discontinuing these will cause grave inconvenience to them.”

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