New Delhi: Giving major relief to the embattled telecom companies, the Centre on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it was reconsidering giving a waiver of the one-time spectrum charge amounting to Rs 40,000 crores to the telecom companies.
In a brief affidavit, the department of telecommunications (DoT) said the amount involved was the subject matter of adjudication and sought three weeks’ time to review the decision to penalise the telecom firms for
delay in paying the spectrum charges.
A bench comprising Justices M.R. Shah and A.S. Bopanna granted the DoT time to reconsider the levy and posted the matter for hearing on November 17, while noting that it can’t allow waivers as it has to keep in mind the larger public interest.
The case has been going on since July 2019 when the Telecom Disputes Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) ruled that the one-time spectrum charge could be levied prospectively, not retrospectively. The DoT then moved
the Supreme Court, which refused to stay the TDSAT order.
The DoT said the telecom sector was passing through financial stress for some time due to various circumstances and despite certain measures taken by the government in the public interest, most TSPs giving mobile phone and broadband services have been incurring losses.
“The Indian Banks Association has also conveyed to the Central government in writing that those adverse developments in the telecommunications sector may lead to failures, vanishing competition, duopoly, unsustainable operations, and severe loss for the banking system which has a huge exposure to this sector," it said in the affidavit.
The affidavit also cited the decision taken by the Union Cabinet to encourage competition amongst TSPs by preventing a situation where the viability of some TSPs become unsustainable, that could lead to a monopolistic situation and other adverse effects on the economy.