No fine on telcos till reasonable procedure evolved: Sibal

"I have passed an order that no fine will be imposed henceforth till such a time we evolve reasonable procedures for imposition of fine. If the government fines Rs 50 crore, then people will go to court, nothing comes to the government, not useful for anybody," he said at an award function of television news channel ET Now.

Sibal had asked the Department of Telecom (DoT) to evolve guidelines to reduce the element of its discretion while deciding penalty for violation of licence conditions and make the process as scientific as possible.

As of now, the DoT has been levying maximum penalty of up to Rs 50 crore for all cases of violations of licence conditions.

Sibal said irrespective of whether penalty was imposed or not, there would be complaints filed against the Department.

"...If somebody does not impose penalty...complaint will be filed where they will say look you have been bought over by such and such person...When files come to me, if I reduce penalty, then complaint will be filed that the Minister has been bought," he said.

"So in this environment, don't blame the government alone ...there is an environment of suspicion...in that context it is difficult for a bureaucrat to deliver," he added.

Sibal's reply came in response to telecom czar Sunil Mittal's question asking the government to take a balanced view of maximising revenues and industry's well-being.

"...My department has the right to impose penalty and it goes from Rs 0 to Rs 50 crore. It is always Rs 50 crore...I have written to officials in my ministry to decide, write reason for record, why penalty should be Rs 50 crore" Sibal said at the function in Mumbai.

"And therefore, you must evolve guidelines to decide what the penalty should be for violation of rules.... Let the government evolve the guidelines," he added.

The Minister had earlier said "mindless imposition of maximum penalty in each particular case would send a wrong message to the industry and dampen the fragile environment".
It would be needless litigation and delay in realisation of penalty, the minister had said.

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