The Punjab and Haryana high court took exception of the Chandigarh administration’s sealing the premises of cellular firms despite assurance to the court.
Hearing an application filed by the Cellular Operators’ Association of India, the high court bench of justice SK Mittal and justice HS Sidhu asked the administration as to how the premises of two of firms were sealed despite assurance from the authorities on August 4 that no coercive action would be taken against the cellular firms.
On August 4, UT’s counsel Shekhar Verma had verbally told the court that no coercive action would be taken against any cellular firm when the counsels for the association were pressing for stay on the UT policy. However, after verbal assurance from Verma, the court did not stay the policy.
On Friday, UT senior standing counsel Sanjeev Sharma and advocate associated with the case Shekhar Verma had a tough time in convincing the court of its action and it was only after the assurance that the offices sealed would be unsealed immediately that the court relented and asked it to file a detailed reply by August 26.
The high court directed the cellular companies to supply information to the UT administration about the towers installed in the city within a week. The firms have also been directed to supply the information as to how many towers in the city were installed with the approval of the administration.
The direction came following an application from the petitioner wherein it was alleged that despite assurance from the UT’s counsel during the previous date of hearing on August 4, the administration sealed the premises of Bharti Airtel Limited and Reliance Communications Limited on Thursday.
The petitioners had submitted that even as they were preparing the list of towers installed by cellular operators as desired by the UT administration, the estate department sealed the premises of some of their association members.
On July 28, the association had approached the high court challenging the Chandigarh Policy on Towers for Mobile Telephone and Data Services. The association had stated that the administration be stopped from levying fee for installation of mobile towers as part of the infrastructure for communication services from the petitioners.
They had also submitted that the policy was in conflict of the guidelines framed by the Union government and put unnecessary restrictions on the locations of towers, height, footprint, location and equipment and imposes very high fee.