The Supreme Court of India has suggested that telcos that stayed away from the 2G spectrum auctions held in November 2012, and whose licenses were cancelled in February of that year, should not be allowed to continue operations. While staying away from an actual order, the bench of Supreme Court justices told the Department of Telecom that it has to “take a position on those who have been unsuccessful in auction conducted on November 12 and 13, 2012. They cannot be allowed to operate in the events when there are bidders who have been successful. Those who did not go for the bid are also not entitled to continue.”
The Supreme Court justices stated that allowing telcos whose licenses had been cancelled to continue operations would invite more litigation from other telcos. The Supreme Court had earlier allowed these telcos to continue operations till fresh auctions were conducted. Vodafone has also fired off a strongly worded letter to the DoT complaining of the fact that it has yet to be assigned the spectrum that it won during the November auctions.
The November auctions organized by DoT witnessed disappointing turnout from telcos who predominantly stayed away from bidding on licenses in major circles like Delhi, Mumbai, Karnataka and Rajasthan, citing “high” base prices as the main reason. The DoT is planning a second round of auctions in March but the base prices announced for that auction have also been criticised by Telenor through a letter that stated that the high base prices would make participation in the auction “almost impossible.”
In February of last year, the Supreme Court had cancelled all 122 licenses awarded to 11 telcos in 2008 by then Telecom Minister A. Raja, for reasons of corruption and bias.