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Hard luck on GSM lobby

New Delhi, Dec. 24 (PTI): Delhi High Court today refused to pass any order on the telecom appellate tribunal’s decision on spectrum allocation, even as GSM players sought a probe into the government’s move to allow the use of dual technology.

“I can’t pass a status quo order without going into the details. Let me go through the petition. You (Ram Jethmalani) yourself said the matter is complicated,” Justice Sanjeev Khanna said while posting the matter for hearing on January 3.

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, along with Fali S. Nariman, appearing for the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), contended that the biggest scam had occurred. It needed police inquiry and hence it required urgent hearing.

But the court turned down the request. The matter was originally listed for hearing before Justice Aruna Suresh, who transferred it to Justice Khanna.

At the beginning, additional solicitor-general Vikas Singh contended there was no urgency involved in the matter.

Telecom tribunal TDSAT had, on December 12, passed an order allowing the government to go ahead with spectrum allocation and dual technology.

Though the high court was open till December 20, the COAI chose to come during vacation despite the fact that their petition was ready by December 13, Singh said.

The COAI, which is an association of GSM operators, has engaged a battery of senior lawyers, including Harish Salve and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, besides Jethmalani and Nariman.

The petition filed by the COAI sought a stay on the government's October 18 and 19 decisions to permit the use of dual technology and regulator Trai's recommendation of enhanced subscriber-linked criteria for the allocation of additional spectrum.

The COAI’s petition also sought direction from the court to restrain the government from allocating any GSM spectrum to CDMA operators and licence/spectrum to new applicants.

The petitioner submitted that the said “in principle” approval and the DoT’s decision of December 18 and 19 allowing the use of dual technology to Reliance and others were unfair, unreasonable and legally mala fide denying equal opportunity and a level-playing field to GSM operators.

The COAI submitted that permitting dual technology required prior approval of the Union cabinet. However, instead of procuring the requisite approval for its decision to amend the National Telecom Policy 1999, the DoT, with unseemly haste, issued an “in principle” approval to Reliance on December 18 for the simultaneous use of GSM and CDMA technologies by a single player.

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