Government has imposed a penalty of Rs 290 crore on 103 licencees which failed to meet the roll out obligations for the 2G spectrum after they maintained that cancellation would not be in public interest, the Supreme Court was informed on Tuesday.
It also said in an affidavit in the case relating to 2G scam that 85 ineligible entities have been issued showcause notices for cancellation of their licences issued during the regime of former telecom minister A Raja.
The affidavit also mentioned the defence taken by the companies which opposed the cancellation of licences for their failure to meet the roll out obligations.
"The defence of the licensees is that experience all over the world shows roll out may get delayed. This may lead to a monetary penalty but by itself cannot result in cancellation of the licences.
"That is why the licences provide for imposition of monetary penalty. If a licence is to be cancelled after it is acted upon only on account of delayed roll out the investment made in infrastructure etc. would be rendered nugatory which may not be in public interest " the affidavit said.
The demand notices levying liquidated damages for failure to comply with the roll out obligations have been issued to 103 out of 122 companies which were issued licences in 2008 and Rs 206 crore as penalty has been recovered while Rs 83.72 crore was due.
Government said it received replies of 85 ineligible entities and the entire matter now is being examined in the Department of Telecom.
"All the aspects of the matter are being examined by the Department of Telecom and an appropriate decision will be taken in accordance with law " it said in the affidavit.
The Department of Telecom which filed the affidavit said "where there has been a clear infraction such as delayed roll out penalties have already been imposed".
"These Demand Notices have been issued after ascertaining the delay in meeting the roll out obligations and after giving due consideration to the date of allocation of spectrum and the average delays by the Standing Advisory Committee on Frequency Allocation ("SACFA") clearances if any.
"It was a condition of the licence that for the purposes of roll out obligation the licensee company should provide street level coverage in at least 90% of the geographical area of the district HQs/towns where the roll out has been done.
"This evaluation is done by a technical team of the Department of Telecom called Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) cells " the affidavit filed by the Department of Telecom said.