A Delhi high court judge today recused from hearing separate pleas of telecom firms, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular Ltd against DoT orders asking them to stop providing intra-circle 3G roaming service outside their licensed circles by entering into pacts with other service providers.
Telecom firms, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular Ltd, in their petitions, have also challenged the imposition of penalties of Rs. 350 crore, Rs. 550 crore and Rs. 300 crore respectively for providing the 3G facilities.
Justice VK Jain, after brief hearing, said these matters be listed before another bench as he was part of a division bench that had earlier heard and decided a petition on the same issue.
These petitions will now come up for hearing before another court on August 1.
Earlier, Justice Jain, who was part of a bench headed by then chief justice D Murugesan, had set aside a single judge order that had allowed Bharti Airtel to continue providing 3G intra-circle roaming facilities with other service providers.
DoT had asked Bharti Airtel to stop intra-circle 3G roaming in seven circles where it did not have the spectrum and also levied a penalty of Rs. 350 crore (Rs 50 crore per circle) for violating the license terms and conditions.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had directed the DoT not to take any coercive steps against some firms.
The DoT had on March 15 imposed a penalty of Rs. 350 crore on Bharti Airtel, saying such ICR pacts were illegal and amounted to sub-letting of 3G spectrum.
The DoT had also issued similar orders to Vodafone and Idea directing them to scrap 3G intra-circle roaming pacts.
A penalty of Rs. 550 crore and Rs. 300 crore respectively were imposed on them for alleged violation of 3G service license norms.
Vodafone and Idea have also separately filed petitions in the Delhi high court challenging the DoT's order.