The Delhi High Court is likely to decide Monday the fate of mobile towers in the capital, which are under threat of sealing by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for operating without licence.
Justice Kailash Gambhir, who had reserved his judgment May 24, is likely to pronounce the order Monday. The sealing drive is on hold for now.
There are 5,364 mobile phone towers under the MCD’s jurisdiction. Of these, as many as 2,952 have been declared illegal for having come up without the civic agency’s authorisation.
Under the revised MCD guidelines unveiled Feb 9, the licence fee to be paid by a telecom operator to the civic agency for installing a tower has been increased from Rs.1 lakh to Rs.5 lakh.
Cellular operators have, in their petition, termed the hike ‘totally arbitrary’ and said: ‘The licence fee earlier was Rs.1 lakh for 20 years, which has now been increased to Rs.5 lakh for a period of five years. When the MCD increased the fees, did it make any arrangement to increase the facilities attached to the tower?’
The MCD has sealed about 300 towers in the past few months. But 41 were again made operational after the phone companies completed the formalities.
According to the civic agency, mobile operators, who have set up towers illegally, were given one month’s time to get them regularised. The deadline expired in the first week of May.
On the last date of hearing, the MCD had informed the court that it is not ready to lower the licence fee.
The court had May 13 restrained the MCD from sealing illegal mobile towers till May 24, while asking the civic agency to explain on what grounds the licence fee was hiked.
The MCD had filed a detailed reply explaining the rationale behind the increase in the licence fee and said: ‘Our main concern is to regularise the towers as they are a great health hazard and public at large will suffer.’
But Justice Kailash Gambhir did not seem to be impressed by the MCD’s reply and said: ‘Your reply is not satisfactory and you failed to establish the correlation between the fee hike and the benefits linked to it.’