Supreme Court cancels 122 2G telecom licences granted during A Raja's tenure

BT Online Bureau        Last Updated: February 2, 2012  | 17:29 IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday cancelled all 122 licences granted to telecom firms during the tenure of former communications minister A. Raja and left it to the trial court to judge if Home Minister P. Chidambaram needed to be tried.

The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly said but for the initiative of enlightened citizens looking for clean governance, unsuspecting citizens would not have known the misuse and arbitrary manner in which second-generation (2G) telecom licences were granted.

The court said the companies whose licences stand to be cancelled will continue to offer their services for four months during which time the telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will look into the matter and make recommendations for the fresh auction.

The court, taking note of the arbitrary manner in which licences were granted, slapped a cost of Rs 5 crore each on Unitech, Swan Telecom and Tata Teleservices and said half of that will go to the court's legal aid services and the remaining to defence services.

Varying costs have been imposed on other companies also.

The verdict came on a plea by Janta Party president Subramanian Swamy's plea seeking an investigation into the alleged role of Chidambaram, who was finance minister when these 122 licences were issued to these companies.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan had also filed a petition seeking cancellation of licences.

The two-member bench said the trial court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) can determine if Chidambaram needed to be investigated, but declined another plea to form a special investigative team for that.

In response to the cancellation of licences, Uninor spokesperson said: "We have been unfairly treated as we simply followed the government process we were asked to. We are shocked to see that Uninor is being penalised for faults the court has found in the Government process. It is important to note that order does not stop our operations for now."

"We will study the order in detail and exercise all options available to ensure that Uninor continues to operate in India. We also expect the authorities to ensure that our 36 million customers, 17500 workforce and 22,000 partners are not unjustly affected." the company spokesperson added.

With IANS inputs

  • Print

A    A   A