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Jun 04, 2012, 09.16 AM IST
Telecom tribunal TDSAT has pulled up the government for imposing fresh penalties on Idea Cellular despite an earlier order setting aside a similar fine due to the operator's alleged delay in service roll-out obligations in five circles.
A TDSAT bench headed by its Chairman Justice S B Sinha said it has already set aside the penalty on Idea Cellular on December last year observing that "principles of natural justice" were not followed by Department of Telecommunications while imposing the aforesaid liquidated damages.
"We fail to see any reason as to why despite our judgement dated December 5, 2011 the impugned demands have been raised without complying with the principles of natural justice; the core issue between the parties remaining the same.
"We, therefore, are of the opinion that the impugned demands cannot be sustained. They are set aside, accordingly," said the tribunal and asked DoT to pay Rs 50,000 to Idea Cellular as cost of litigation.
However, it also said that the DoT may raise fresh demand against Idea Cellular "upon complying with the principles of natural justice".
The matter relates to roll-out obligation in five circles - Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
These circles came to Idea's fold after its merger with Spice Communications.
Earlier, DoT had imposed a penalty of Rs 4.55 crore for each circle for delay in meeting the roll-out obligations after 39 weeks of spectrum allotment.
This was subsequently challenged by Idea before the tribunal, which set aside the penalty after observing that DoT did not gave a proper chance to the operator to represent its case and was in violation of principles of natural justice.
TDSAT had asked DoT to rework on the issue.
However, DoT imposed additional liquidated damages of Rs 1.8 crore per circle on Idea Cellular for the same circles again on December 23, 2011.
This was again challenged by Idea Cellular before the TDSAT, terming the fresh demands as "ex-facie illegal and without jurisdiction".
DoT contended the demands were raised as Idea had failed to meet its roll-out obligations for a period of 52 weeks as is provided for in the clauses of its license agreement.
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