3G row: SC asks Bharti Airtel to approach TDSAT

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked Bharti Airtel to approach telecom tribunal TDSAT with its plea against a DoT order asking it to stop providing intra-circle 3G roaming service outside licensed circles by entering into pacts with other service-providers.
 
The bench, comprising justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde, also asked the telecom major to move within two weeks Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) which would decide the case by the year end.
 
The apex court however, clarified that its interim order restraining Indian telecom major Bharti Airtel from adding new customers via 3G roaming pacts would continue till December-end.
 
It also asked Airtel to name Reliance Communication as a respondent in the petition before TDSAT which in turn would decide as to whether RComm has the right to be heard or not.
 
Besides Bharti, DoT has also asked telecom majors Vodafone and Idea Cellular Ltd to stop providing intra-circle 3G roaming service outside licensed circles by entering into pacts with other service-providers.
 
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular were also asked by DOT to pay penalties of Rs 350 crore, Rs 550 crore and Rs 300 crore respectively for providing the 3G facilities in intra-circles.
 
Earlier, the Supreme Court had directed DoT not to take any coercive step against some firms including Bharti Airtel.
 
DoT had on March 15 imposed a penalty of Rs 350 crore on Bharti Airtel, saying such pacts were illegal and amounted to sub-letting of 3G spectrum.
 
DoT had also issued similar orders to Vodafone and Idea directing them to scrap 3G intra-circle roaming pacts.
 
Airtel, Vodafone India, and Idea Cellular had entered into intra-circle roaming pacts, wherein they shared 3G spectrum in circles in which they did not individually own the spectrum.