Decision on telecom licences renewal in two weeks, court told

Delhi High Court has been informed by the central government that it will decide the applications of renewal of licences of telecom service providers Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Loop Telecom within two weeks.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher, accepting the submissions of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A.S. Chandhiok that the applications will be decided as per the law, disposed of the petitions and said that detailed order will be passed later in the day.

Leading telecom service providers Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Loop Telecom have moved the high court challenging telecom department’s move to put for auction 900 MHz spectrum despite their applications for licence extension pending with the department.

The companies had in December last year sought extension of their licence period for Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata circles, which are coming up for renewal in November 2014.

The three service providers hold spectrum in the 900 MHz band, which the department of telecommunications plans to auction along with auction of 1,800 and 800 MHz beginning March 11.

The telecom operator has sought the extension under clause 4.1 of the licence agreement under which the government can extend the period of licence by 10 years at one time if the request is made by the operator during the 19th year of the licence period.

The companies moved the court after the Supreme Court last week said that auction of 900 MHz spectrum was not part of its Feb 2, 2012 order and companies are free to challenge it before any court of law



2G: Arguments on charges against Essar, Loop promoters from May 3

A Delhi court on Saturday fixed May 3 for commencement of arguments on framing of charges in the case arising out of the 2G spectrum allocation scam involving promoters of Essar Group and Loop Telecom.

Special CBI Judge O P Saini listed the case for arguments on charges on May 3-4 and May 7-8.

Besides this, the bail applications filed by five accused, Essar group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia and Loop Telecom promoters I P Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan and Essar Group director (Strategy and Planning) Vikas Saraf, would also be heard on May 3.

“Put up for arguments on bail applications and arguments on charges on the facts of the case for May 3-4 and May 7 and 8,” the judge said.

CBI’s prosecutor A K Singh said the agency would not file any written reply to the bail pleas and will advance arguments on charge framing from May 3 against the three companies — Loop Telecom Pvt Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Tele Holding and their promoters.

The CBI, in its third chargesheet filed on December 12 last year, had accused them of conspiracy and cheating the Department of Telecom (DoT).

The CBI, however, had not found enough evidence to prosecute them under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Essar has denied any involvement in the 2G case and has approached the Supreme Court contending that the special court cannot proceed against them as they were not charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act.



Loop, Essar promoters move bail pleas in 2G case

Some top corporate honchos from Loop Telecom and Essar Group appeared before the special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the 2G spectrum allocation case here Saturday and moved their respective bail pleas.

Special CBI Judge O.P. Saini put up the arguments on bail for April 21 after the counsel for the premier investigative agency told the court that they will file reply on their bail application.

Essar Group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia, and Loop Telecom promoters I.P. Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan were earlier exempted from personal appearance before the court three times – Jan 27, Feb 22 and March 17.

The court on the last hearing while granting exemption to all four accused had directed them to appear in person March 31 saying it would be in their interest.

The third set of charges filed by the CBI in the 2G case alleged that the Essar Group had used Loop as a front to acquire telecom licences in 2008. Essar, which already had a 33-percent stake in Vodafone, held substantial equity in Loop and violated telecom licence norms, the chargesheet said.

The Essar Group has, however, maintained that it has done no wrong.

According to the government auditor, former telecom minister A. Raja was biased while distributing mobile airwaves and operating licences to telecom firms, costing a loss of up to Rs.1.76 lakh crore in lost revenues to the treasury.

Nineteen individuals, including Raja, and six companies are accused in the case. Fourteen people were arrested, and among them all except Raja and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura, have been released on bail.