This week does not seem to be in favor of Bharti Airtel. The Delhi High Court has dismissed the petition filed by the telecom operator in the 3G intra-circle Roaming (ICR) matter. It has refused to grant further dates to Airtel on 3G Roaming. But, HC has guaranteed the liberty to pursue the matter further with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).
Earlier Airtel’s petition was premised on the basis that on the date of the filing, TDSAT was not functioning, leaving the company with no “alternative effective remedy. But now when TDSAT is “admittedly functional” the apex court has granted it liberty to pursue the matter further with the TDSAT.
On December 23, 2011, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sent notice to firms like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular asking them to stop their “illegal” 3G roaming pacts with immediate effect.
In August, 2012, The Law Ministry gave the green signal to the Department of Telecom to take action against telcos that have been offering 3G services in service areas that were not allotted 3G spectrums in the Intra-circle roaming agreements.
The telecom ministry had declared that such ICR pacts offering 3G services by Airtel, Vodafone and Idea were illegal and ordered Bharti Airtel to pay a penalty of Rs 350 crore and also asked Airtel to immediately stop 3G services in zones where it does not have its own airwaves and is providing the premium services through pacts with other carriers.
In April, 2013 the Court passed an order restricting Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular from enrolling any new 3G customers in circles where they did not have the licences to offer 3G services. The apex court, however, allowed companies to offer 3G services to existing customers through ICR pacts until the final verdict.
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