The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to de-seal the illegal mobile phone towers in the capital within five days if the telecom operators pay the licence fees fixed by the corporation.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan said that only those mobile towers would be de-sealed which were sealed due to payment problems.
The telecom operators will have to deposit the payment by July 14.
There are 5,364 mobile phone towers within MCD's jurisdiction. Of these, 2,952 have been declared illegal for coming up without the civic agency's authorisation.
The matter related to towers which faced civic agency action due to alleged health hazards posed by them in residential areas would be taken up later, the court said.
The bench transferred the case to a single bench and directed it to complete the hearing within one month. The next date of hearing is Aug 2.
Under the revised MCD guidelines unveiled Feb 9, the licence fee to be paid by a telecom operator to the civic agency for installing a tower has been increased from Rs.1 lakh to Rs.5 lakh.
Cellular operators have, in their petition, termed the hike arbitrary.
“The licence fee earlier was Rs.1 lakh for 20 years, which has now been increased to Rs.5 lakh for five years. When MCD increased the fees, did it make any arrangement to increase the facilities attached to the towers?” they questioned.
In June, the cellular operators' association moved the division bench which overturned a single bench order that had asked cellular operators to pay Rs.2 lakh as licence fee per tower.
The MCD sealed more than 300 towers in recent months. But 41 of them were made operational again after the companies completed the formalities.
According to the civic agency, mobile operators who have set up towers illegally were given one month to get these regularised. The deadline expired in the first week of May.