In a setback to the Centre, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the government to refund the liquidated damages imposed on five telecom companies for failing to meet the roll-out obligations of 2G spectrum.
The licences received by the operators in 2008 during former telecom minister A Raja's tenure, were cancelled following the SC verdict in February this year.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir refused to set aside the TDSAT order that in January this year directed the government to refund the damages alongwith interest. The court, however, waived the interest part in its interim order.
The total amount of damages to be refunded is around Rs. 300 crore. The five companies that paid the penalty are Unitech Wireless (Uninor), Videocon Telecom, Aircel, Dishnet Wireless, Sistema Shyam Teleservices, and S Tel.
Counsel for Aircel said, "The TDSAT on January 13, 2012, had set aside liquidated damages imposed on new telecom operators for delay in meeting roll-out obligations and had directed the DoT to refund the money within a month with 12% interest. Aircel had paid a total penalty of Rs. 74.28 crore for its 14 circles."
By the tribunal order an additional Rs. 11 crore might be paid to Aircel as interest, he added.