Supreme Court on Thursday canceled all 122 telecom licenses allotted under the 2G spectrum on or after January 10, 2008. All additional spectrum given to incumbents on or after January 10, 2008 have also been canceled.
A penalty of Rs 5 crore has been imposed on Unitech Wireless Ltd (Uninor), Swan Telecom and Tata Telecom. A penalty of Rs 50 lakh has also been imposed on Loop, S-Tel, Allianz and Sistema Shyam. The licenses canceled include 21 of Videocon, 22 of Unitech Wireless Ltd (Uninor), nine of Idea, 21 of Loop, six of S-Tel, 21 of Sistema, three of Tata, 13 of Swan and two of Allianz.
Idea Cellular, one of the original mobile operators had applied for 9 new licenses in 2006, long before the Government took a decision to award licenses in 2008. Today, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has delivered its judgment on PILs in the matter of telecom licenses granted in 2008, where they had quashed all the 122 telecom licenses issued.
This includes Idea’s above 9 licenses and 4 licenses of erstwhile Spice Communications which stands merged with Idea Cellular. Idea Cellular has rolled out its telecom services in 7 license areas including Tamil Nadu, Kolkata, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, NESA and Jammu & Kashmir. The remaining 2 licenses of Idea Cellular and 4 licenses of erstwhile Spice Communications are non-operational. These licenses, as per then stated Government’s “first come first serve” policy, should have been granted to Idea Cellular much earlier than January, 2008. This seems to have been recognized by the Supreme Court as they have not charged Idea Cellular any penalty. Idea Cellular has unnecessarily been caught in this situation of canceled licenses, just because the licenses were granted in January, 2008 which was as late as 18 months from the date of application.
In fact, Idea Cellular had filed a Petition in TDSAT inter alia seeking to isolate their application from the 2007/08 applications, and thus requesting for priority under the then DoT policy of “first come first serve”.
It is unfortunate that a serious incumbent operator like Idea Cellular is being made to suffer due to this cancellation of licenses, despite being fully compliant at each stage of the license allocation process. As per information available from the media,the license holders are allowed to continue operations for the next 4 months and an auction will be conducted for these licenses within this period.
It appears from above facts that Idea Cellular is a victim of circumstances and have to bear the brunt for no fault of theirs. Sir Jee, we sympathise with you!