DoT to seek legal opinion before canceling new licences

DoT to seek legal opinion before canceling new licences

DoT to seek legal opinion before canceling new licences

"DoT will seek opinion of Attorney General or Solicitor General to come to a final conclusion to address some of the legal issues," a senior DoT official said.

Last year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had asked DoT to impose penalty and cancel as many as 65 new licences for not rolling out services within timeframe.

The Telecom Ministry has been issuing notices to firms on two issues - ineligibility to get licences and missing roll-out obligations within the stipulated timeframe.

"Our first goal is to send out the notices and then we will also seek the legal opinion from the law officers then try to put their replies and the legal opinion together to take a final action," the official added.

DoT has already issued 15 notices to new telecom companies out of total 65 recommended by Trai. All of them are the part of 122 licences which were identified by Trai with respect to missing roll-out obligations and also ineligible to get a licence.

"We expect to send the notices any time now ... our goal would be to send them as soon as possible so that their replies come to us by end of December this year," the official said.

The cancellations pertain to licences issued in 2008 by former telecom minister A Raja, who was sacked last year when his ministry was accused of selling licences and spectrum cheaply, allegedly costing the government billions of dollars in revenue.

The official also said that some of these 15 cases would be common with those who were ineligible to get licences and separate notices have been sent to these player on both counts.

The DoT has already collected over Rs 300 crore as liquidated damages from various new operators for not rolling out services within stipulated time as per licence conditions.

According to the conditions, the operators have to cover 10 per cent of the district headquarters within first year of allotment of spectrum. And after expiry of another 52 weeks, after claiming liquidated damages, the licences can be cancelled in case the services are not rolled out as per licence conditions. A final decision on this issue will be taken by DoT.