Supreme Court Stays Removal of Mobile Phone Towers Near Rajasthan Prisons
Rajasthan government on May 9 ordered telecom operators to decommission their cell towers located within 500 metres of jails.
Rajasthan government on May 9 ordered telecom operators to decommission their cell towers located within 500 metres of jails. (Image: Getty Images)
The Supreme Court on Monday put on hold a Rajasthan governments order directing mobile phone operators to remove their cell towers from within 500 metres of jail premises across the state.
A vacation bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Deepak Gupta stayed the order as senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the bench that removal of cell towers would affect 80 lakh people and would have a cascading effect.
The Rajasthan government on May 9 ordered telecom operators to decommission their cell towers located within 500 metres of jails.
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This followed a Rajasthan High Court order of April 6.
The state government had given service providers 30 days time to remove their towers, a period which was ending in early June.
Sibal told the court that even the Department of Telecommunications and the government had earlier supported the telecom service providers.
The apex court bench said no coercive steps would be taken by the authorities.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) told the top court that the high court, when it passed its order, was not told that the August 31, 2012 policy which barred installation of cell towers within 500 metres of jail premises was superseded by a February 6, 2017 policy.
The February 6 policy of the State government permitted setting up cell towers not only within 500 metres of jails but also on public and private locations including parks, playgrounds, hospitals, schools and government-owned or -controlled buildings and lands under cultivation.
However, this policy was amended saying that the permission for setting up cell towers should not be given in these areas/premises if barred by a competent court.
This condition was included through an amendment made on February 9.
The mobile service providers had sought direction that they should not be asked to remove the towers nor would the government take steps to seal them or take any coercive steps against the cellular service providers.
It had said that the order would impact 80 lakh subscribers as the entire exercise would involve removal of 400 Base Transceiver Towers (BTSs) including Base Station Controllers sites which are further catering to 2,500 BTSs.
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