Telecom tribunal TDSAT on Thursday dismissed Reliance Communications' plea to implead sectoral regulator TRAI as a party in its petition demanding allocation of additional spectrum by DoT.
TDSAT's interim order came over petitions filed by Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communications (RCom) against the DoT seeking allocation of additional spectrum before the proposed auction of airwaves later this year.
The tribunal, however, allowed the pleas of GSM industry body COAI to be an intervener in the petitions of Tata Teleservices and RCom on additional spectrum and allowed them to file additional relevant documents.
Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) had requested the tribunal to implead in the matter and allow it to put its view as the matter was important for them.
A TDSAT bench headed by Justice S B Sinha said COAI can be an intervener and file documents to supports its claims.
However, the tribunal was of view that TRAI has no role in allocation of spectrum and its role was only to recommend.
It was on the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to accept or reject such recommendations, it added.
"The TRAI has no final authority in the matter. In that view of the matter, we are of the opinion that TRAI is not a necessary or proper party nor its presence for resolution of the dispute is necessary," said the TDSAT.
RCom has said that as recommendations for dual technology were made by TRAI for allocation of GSM spectrum, the matter should be disposed by TDSAT in its presence.
TDSAT also allowed the plea of Unitech Wireless, which runs services under the brand name Uninor, to be heard in the case. Uninor had contended that in the event these petitions are allowed, quantum of spectrum for auction would be lower.
Uninor's licence and start-up spectrum had been cancelled by the Supreme Court in February this year and is one of the main contenders of the proposed auction of radio waves by the government this year.
"The applicant COAI has questioned the authority of the DoT to allot GSM spectrum to the CDMA operators. If an auction of 2G spectrum takes place, the existing licencees as also Uninor would take part.
"If the petitions (Tata & RCom) are allowed, the same would directly or indirectly affect quantum of spectrum. We, therefore, are of the opinion that for an effective adjudication in main matter, applicants should be heard," the TDSAT said.
Tata Teleservices has sought additional spectrum of of 1.8 Mhz before the proposed auction. In another petition, it has sought start-up radio waves of 4.4 Mhz in Delhi and across 39 districts in 9 circles.
RCom has applied for allocation of spectrum for the circles, in which the firm has achieved required subscriber base for the allocation of additional radio waves.
Apart from Tata Tele and RCom, Aircel has also approached TDSAT seeking additional spectrum.