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TDSAT rejects Airtel, Voda, Idea, Loop licence extension petitions

In a setback to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Loop and Idea, telecom tribunal TDSAT has dismissed their pleas seeking stay over next month's spectrum auction and extension of their licences by another 10 years.

Rejecting a batch of petition, the tribunal said: ‘The petitioners have failed to establish their right for extension in terms of the relevant provisions in their licences, the matter ends there’.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) held that it was satisfied with the reason based on which the Department of Telecom (DoT) had denied extension and asked telcos to participate in the spectrum auction starting 3 February.

‘Denial of extension of the licenses to the petitioners is based on good reasons as envisaged under clause 4.1 of the UAS license and the relevant provision in the CMTS license and the petitioners can claim no right for extension of their licenses under the aforesaid provisions of their licenses,’ said TDSAT bench headed by Chairman Justice Aftab Alam.

It further observed that ‘any extension of the expiring licences is bound to undermine the implementation of the policy and that is justification enough and sufficient for the government to decline the extension for the licenses’.

Vodafone and Bharti Airtel are participating in the coming auction and are short-listed as eligible bidders. Their licenses are expiring by November end this year on completion of the 20-year period as per license conditions. However, their participation is without prejudice to their rights and contentions in the petitions pending before TDSAT as per the order passed 20 December, 2013. Loop, which operates in the Mumbai circle, has not participated in the auction process as it was waiting for the outcome of this petition.
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