The government does not seem inclined to cancel the 2G spectrum licences of telecom companies for failing to meet their roll-out obligations.
The department of telecommunications (DoT) is understood to have instructed its top law officers to tell the Supreme Court that cancellation of 2G licences for delayed roll-out "may not be in public interest," government sources told HT .Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy and Centre for Public Interest Litigation have moved the apex court for cancellation of all 2G licences for delay in complying with the roll-out obligations and also on the ground that some of them were ineligible.
The court, which has issued notices to the government and 10 companies, is scheduled to hear the matter on March 1.
Government sources further said delay in rolling out 2G spectrum services might lead to monetary penalty but such delay by itself cannot result in cancellation of licences.
They said the issues raised by CAG with regard to alleged ineligibility of some of the companies to hold the licences required detailed considerations and notices have already been issued to the licencees and that the matter was under DoT's examination.
The government is worried about the fact that if the licences were to be cancelled, after it is acted upon, on account of delayed roll-out, it would render the investment in infrastructure nugatory, sources said adding that investment issues also had to be considered.
However, the government has already issued demand notices levying liquidated damages on the companies that failed to comply with the roll-out norms. The demand has been raised as per the data made available to the telecom department by its filed units.
Most of the licencees have already approached TDSAT challenging the demand notices imposing the liquidated damages. The tribunal has already passed interim orders in some cases, they said.