No fine on telcos till reasonable procedure evolve

New Delhi: Taking note of industry`s concerns over imposition of irrational penalties, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday said no fine would be imposed on service providers till a reasonable procedure was evolved.

"I have passed an order that no fine will be imposed henceforth till such a time we evolve reasonable procedures for imposition of fine. If the government fines Rs 50 crore, then people will go to court, nothing comes to the government, not useful for anybody," he said at an award function of television news channel ET Now.

Sibal had asked the Department of Telecom (DoT) to evolve guidelines to reduce the element of its discretion while deciding penalty for violation of licence conditions and make the process as scientific as possible.

As of now, the DoT has been levying maximum penalty of up to Rs 50 crore for all cases of violations of licence conditions. Sibal said irrespective of whether penalty was imposed or not, there would be complaints filed against the Department.

"…If somebody does not impose penalty…complaint will be filed where they will say look you have been bought over by such and such person…When files come to me, if I reduce penalty, then complaint will be filed that the Minister has been bought," he said. "So in this environment, don`t blame the government alone …there is an environment of suspicion…in that context it is difficult for a bureaucrat to deliver," he added.

Sibal`s reply came in response to telecom czar Sunil Mittal`s question asking the government to take a balanced view of maximising revenues and industry`s well-being.
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Chinese Special Representative Dai Bingguo was to travel to Delhi for talks with his Indian counterpart Shivshankar Menon to follow up on their talks in the 14th round in Beijing in November last year.

The External Affairs Ministry yesterday issued a terse statement "we are looking forward to the 15th round of SRs talks in the near future and the two sides remain in touch to find convenient dates for the meeting."

Dai and Menon were expected to discuss putting in place a mechanism for border management mooted by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to India last year. A decision to set up the mechanism was taken at a meeting Wen had with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Sanya in April.