Divergent views of two lawyers representing government on Sistema Shyam Teleservices operations between February 15 and March 11, 2013 has prompted DoT to seek the law ministry's opinion on the matter.
The Supreme Court on February 15 this year asked telecom companies whose licences were cancelled in 2012 to discontinue their services if they have been unsuccessful or did not give bids in the spectrum auction conducted on November 12 and November 14, 2012.
SSTL continued its service saying the apex court order did not impact the company and any of its operations as it relates to telecom operators who had not participated in the spectrum auctions in November 2012.
Additional solicitor general Amarjit Singh Chandhiok has opined that company's operations during the period was an contempt of Supreme Court order which had asked telecom operators who had lost permit and did not win spectrum in November auction to discontinue their service.
Chandhiok added that by continuing service, SSTL in turn violated Indian Telegraph Act and that the Department of Telecom can take action against it.
However, Senior Advocate P P Rao opined it is for the Department of Telecom to decide if company can continue operations in public interest.
"Since there is difference of opinion between the two, it has been suggested to defer the matter to the Law Ministry for further advise," a DoT source said.
As per telecom regulator TRAI, the SSTL had 1.4 crore customers in February.
SSTL said that the auctions done on the said dates were for the GSM spectrum (1800 Mhz), while it is a CDMA operator.
The company had filed a separate application before the apex court on January 10 saying that it wants to continue operation and intends to participate in auction to be held in March.
SSTL was the lone bidder in March spectrum auction where it won fresh spectrum for services in 8 circles-- Delhi, Kolkata, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh (West) and West Bengal. The court allowed SSTL to continue operations in these circles on March 11.
When contacted, SSTL spokesperson said "Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd (SSTL) prides itself to be a law abiding company and a good corporate citizen. The Company has not received any query from DoT in relation to the said opinion."