Entry fee refund to telcos: DoT again seeks legal opinion

The Department of Telecommunications has again sought legal opinion on the matter of refunding entry fee to telecom operators whose licences were cancelled by the Supreme Court, after an EgoM decided to adjust fees of only those companies who win spectrum in the auction.

According to sources, DoT has asked for the Attorney General's opinion on "whether entry fee...paid by licencees whose licences have been ordered to be quashed by the Supreme Court needs to be refunded/released/adjusted to all the licencees, as requested by them, whether participating in auction or not?"

The Supreme Court had cancelled 122 telecom licences belonging to eight telecom operators in the 2G scam in February this year.

Of eight companies whose licences were cancelled, only three companies -- Idea Cellular, Videocon and Telenor (majority stakeholder in Uninor) -- participated and won spectrum in the auction held last week.

DoT in its communication to the Law Ministry has said that government had received legal notices from various companies which include Etisalat DB, Sistema Shyam, ByCell, S Tel, Loop Telecom among others, seeking protection of their investment.

Among these companies, it was only ByCell whose licences were revoked by government due to security reasons.

Attorney General in August 2012 had said that the need to refund licence fee paid by operators affected by SC judgement "does arise at this stage".

DoT wants clarity if there is case to refund money of telecom operators who did not participate in the auction and have sent notices or requested for refund of their money paid to the government following EGoM's decision in October.

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