New Delhi, Feb. 15: Last year’s mobile licence losers must cease their operations immediately if they did not participate in the November auction, the Supreme Court ruled today.
Besides, those who did win spectrum in November must start operations immediately, the apex court ordered. The closure order is also for those who failed to win spectrum.
“The telecom companies which have been unsuccessful in the bidding and those after the cancellation of the licences did not participate in the fresh auction are directed to cease from continuing from operation forthwith and the successful bidders will immediately start in their respective circles,” the court said.
A bench comprising justices G.S. Singhvi and K.S. Radhakrishnan directed that those telecom companies which were allowed to continue operation after the scrapping of their licences under the February 2012 judgment will have to pay the reserved price fixed for the licences in the first round of the auction held in November.
The apex court by its interim orders had extended the deadline for them to continue with the operations.
The bench clarified that the apex court’s February 2012 judgment on licence cancellation will not be applicable on telecom companies holding spectrum in the 900MHz band.
The bench also directed the government to immediately put to auction the entire 2G spectrum, which were held by the licence losers.
In February last year, the apex court had cancelled 122 licences for 2G spectrum and had directed the department of telecom (DoT) to hold fresh auction for them within four months. The deadline was extended by its interim orders from time to time.
In the November 2012 auction, five operators — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Telenor-promoted Telewings, Videocon and Idea Cellular — had applied for participating in the auctions.
While Videocon won spectrum in six circles, Idea won spectrum in eight and Telenor got spectrum in six.
The Supreme court’s order means 21 licences of Sistema Shyam Teleservices (MTS), 16 permits of Telenor-controlled Uninor, 15 of Videocon and three CDMA permits of Tata Teleservices are to stand cancelled from January 18, affecting around 25 crore subscribers in the country, according to PTI.
Telenor is in the process of transferring the business of Uninor in six circles to new entity Telewings Communications, which recently won spectrum in a fresh auction.