TDSAT asks Uninor to pay Rs 6 crore penalty

Passing an interim order, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) directed Uninor to pay Rs 6 crore, 60 per cent of the penalty imposed by the Department of Telecom, in the circles of Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.

TDSAT's direction came over a petition filed by Uninor challenging Rs 10.30 crore penalty imposed by the DoT on it for not complying with the roll-out obligations. TDSAT's bench headed by its chairman Justice S B Sinha also issued notice to DoT, directing it to file its reply within two weeks and listed the matter on February 10, for next hearing.

Today's tribunal order was based on an earlier order passed by it, directing Uninor to pay 60 per cent of the penalty imposed on it, as an interim measure. On January 7, TDSAT had directed Uninor, to pay 60 per cent of the penalty demanded by DoT for failing to roll-out services within the stipulated time in six other circles. Then on January 11, it had further directed Uninor to pay 60 per cent for six more circles.

Out of 22 circles alloted to Uninor, the DoT has imposed penalty on it for delay in rolling out services in eighteen circles. Uninor is a joint venture between reality firm Unitech and telecom firm Telenor of Norway.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has issued notice to Uninor seeking Liquidated Damages (LD) for not rolling out its network in 18 circles within stipulated period of one year. Uninor is one of the new operators which was allotted 2G spectrum, or radio waves, by former telecom minister A Raja and is under scanner on eligibility criteria.
DoT had sent notices to several firms which got new 2G licenses bundled with start up spectrum but have not begun offering services in various circles.

As per the conditions of the Unified Access Service License (UASL), the telcos are required to roll-out their networks within one year from the date of allocation of spectrum.
According to the agreement, in case new licencees fail to roll-out services within the stipulated period, DoT shall be entitled to recover LD charges.

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