In a relief to the telecom service providers and mobile phone users, the Supreme Court Thursday ordered status quo thereby red-flagging the removal of 180 phone towers in residential areas of Chandigarh.
The apex court bench of Justice Deepak Verma and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya directed the status quo on a petition by Vodafone South Ltd challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order directing the removal of all mobile phone towers in city homes.
The court issued notices to the central government and the Chandigarh administration. The high court by its impugned orders May 14 and 22 directed the immediate removal of the mobile towers.
The notices were issued when the matter was mentioned before the court Thursday.
Appearing for the petitioner mobile service provider Vodafone, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi told the court that due to the orders of the high court the entire mobile industry in Chandigarh and the adjoining parts of Punjab and Haryana would come to a grinding halt.
The senior counsel told the court that the high court order for removing the mobile phone towers would not only affect the operations of Vodafone and other service providers but would also “cause grave inconvenience to the public”.
The high court order directing the removal of the towers was passed as it felt that the companies were not complying with the EMF (electro magnetic fields) parameters as laid down by the department of telecommunication Nov 11, 2011.
The petition said that the high court failed to appreciate that the EMF norms were to come into force from Sep 1.
The high court failed to appreciate that no policy with respect to the mobile phone towers in residential areas had been finalised by the Chandigarh administration as it was stll at the draft stage, the petition said.
“Clearly in these circumstances the order for the removal of mobile towers is unsustainable in law,” it said.
Senior counsel Rohtagi told the court that the high court could not pass such an order as the matter was still before the Supreme court.
The petition referred to the May 11, 2005, order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which said: “In view of the fact that this matter is already pending consideration before the Supreme Court, we feel it would not be possible for us to go into the merits of the controversy involved in this case.”
The high court later adjourned the matter sine die, the petition said.