Airtel approaches SC against Delhi HC order on 3G roaming pact
DoT had issued a notification restraining Bharti from providing 3G intra-circle roaming facilities in seven circles.
New Delhi: Bharti Airtel on Friday approached the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court's order giving its nod to the Centre's decision holding the 3G roaming pact of the telecom major as illegal. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on March 15 had issued a notification restraining Bharti from providing 3G intra-circle roaming facilities in seven circles where it did not have the spectrum and also levied a penalty of Rs 350 crore (Rs 50 crore per circle) for violating the licence terms and conditions.
The appeal against Thursday's high court order was mentioned before a bench headed by Justice RM Lodha which decided to put up the matter in the mentioning list for Monday. The telecom major has challenged the decision of the division bench of the high court which had set aside its single's judge's March 18 order staying the DoT notification. The high court's division bench passed the order on a plea by Reliance Communications Ltd challenging the single judge's order saying it has been incurring huge losses for the 3G on daily basis and Bharti has been using it free of cost.
The bench allowed Reliance's plea to be impeded as a party in the case filed by Bharti before the single judge. Reliance in its plea had said, "declare and hold 3G intra-circle roaming agreements entered into between Bharti and other service providers as illegal and in violation of Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution."
"It has paid thousands of crores for the 3G spectrum and Bharti is using it for free in as many as seven circles, therefore, disrupting the level playing field. If this is allowed, then there is no requirement for any licensee to participate and purchase 3G spectrum in auction. This defeats the purpose of auction," the plea also said. Reliance said it was not made a party by Bharti in its plea before the single judge despite the fact that Reliance is directly affected by the relief sought by it.