The department of telecommunications (DoT) has taken a stand that there is no dispute as yet with any country under bilateral investment protection agreements (BIPA) on the issue of cancellation of telecom licences as the Supreme Court had allowed these companies to operate services until September 7 under existing licences.
On February 2, the Supreme Court cancelled 122 licences issued by former communications and IT minister A Raja, as they were issued on a first-come-first-served (FCFS) basis. The apex court asked the government to complete the process within four months. Later, the deadline was extended to August 31.
“Your attention is invited to the decision dated February 2, 2012 in writ petition number 423 of 2010 for conducting the auction for grant of fresh license and allocation of spectrum is extended up to August 31, 2012,” the DoT notes in a letter to Telenor Asia Pte Ltd. “The existing licences are entitled to continue to operate till September 7. Thus the licences granted to Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd are still valid....the government of India is of the view that the alleged dispute has not arisen yet,” the note states.Telenor is the majority shareholder in Unitech. The firm has sent notice to the Centre seeking refund of its India investment. DoT has sent similar letters to Loop Telecom, Malaysia-based Axiata, which is an investor in Idea Cellular and the Russian giant Sistema. These companies have sent notices to the government under BIPA.