Telecom minister Kapil Sibal on Friday said the charges against him by an NGO that he lowered penalty of Relinace Communications (RCOM) from Rs. 650 crore to Rs. 5 crore are “malicious, motivated and defamatory”.
Questioned the basis of calculating the penalty of Rs. 650 crore, Sibal said it was a universal service obligation (USO)- funded project which recommended a penalty of Rs. 50 crore.
Giving details about the issue, Sibal said RCOM services were switched off for “whatever reasons” in November 2010 and on December 21, a showcause notice was issued to the company threatening the imposition of a “lumpsum” amount of Rs. 50 crore as penalty for the same.
“The notice for Rs. 50 crore was to pressure Reliance Telecom.... They got worried,” Sibal said, adding the services were restored on February 16 this year and the company paid a penalty of Rs. 5.5 crore.
He said the penalty was calculated on the basis of the duration of disruption of services (7-45 days) as provided in the agreement between the USO Fund and RCom.