India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is expected to make a final decision in around a month on whether or not it will cancel the licences of a number of operators that it is claimed failed to meet eligibility criteria. According to the Business Standard, DoT secretary R Chandrasekhar said of the current timeline for reaching a decision on the matter: ‘We have received clarification from the Corporate Affairs Ministry on [a] date of reckoning for compliance of various conditions, whether it be change in memorandum of association or equity-based … But before taking a final decision, we have to take legal opinion as well. The whole process should take a month or so.’ Having issued notices to a number of operators regarding two specific issues –failure to reach rollout obligations and ineligibility for acquiring a licence – the regulator has said that it has received responses from all companies with regard to the latter issue.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, India’s previous telecoms minister Andimuthu Raja is facing charges regarding the issuing of 122 licences in 2008 without auctioning India’s scarce wireless spectrum, which it has been claimed caused a presumptive loss of more than INR1.76 trillion (USD38.7 billion). In January 2011 India’s Supreme Court issued notices to both the Central Government and eleven private telecoms operators regarding a petition which sought to cancel those 2G spectrum licences it claims were handed to companies either ineligible for such concessions or those that failed to fulfil rollout obligations, after the issue was raised by an independent body, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation. The eleven companies named in the case were: Loop Telecom, Etisalat DB (Swan Telecom), Vodafone Essar, STel, Unitech Wireless (Uninor), Videocon Telecommunications, Idea Cellular (including Spice), Allianz Infratech, Tata Teleservices, Sistema Shyam Teleservices and Dishnet Wireless (a unit of Aircel).