TDSAT gives split verdict on 3G roaming

New Delhi: Telecom tribunal TDSAT today gave a split verdict in the 3G intra-circle roaming case with its Chairman allowing operators` plea against the government order to stop the service, while its member dismissed it.

The two member bench comprising its Chairman Justice S B Sinha and Member P K Rastogi differed in theirs findings.

Justice Sinha allowed the telecom operators` plea against the government`s directive to stop intra circle 3G roaming saying that it was violative of natural justice.

Rastogi, however, dismissed telecom operators plea saying they cannot provide roaming. The chairman was of view that the DoT had not followed the proper procedure and the operators were not given proper time to put their views.

According to Justice Sinha it was a violation of natural justice. Setting aside the DoT`s order to operators to stop ICR roaming, he asked DoT to start the procedure afresh by giving proper time to operators to respond.

Meanwhile, Rastogi dismissed the appeal of telecom operators saying that they can`t provide 3G services by having mere 2G licence.

TDSAT has a sanctioned strength of three people including the Chairman. However, due to retirement of its technical member the tribunal now has two people, which led to the split verdict.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had concluded its marathon hearing on the plea in April.

The tribunal had conducted in-chamber proceedings on the matter, at the request of the operators as they feared leakage of details and cost inputs of their respective Intra-Circle Roaming (ICR) agreements.

The tribunal was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by the operators – Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tata Tele – challenging the December 23 directions of the Department of Telecom (DoT) to scrap the pacts within 24 hours.

In an interim order on December 24, TDSAT had asked DoT not to take any coercive action against the operators till further orders for their 3G roaming pacts.

Earlier, the operators had handed over the copies of their ICR to DoT on the direction of the TDSAT. On February 16, the tribunal had asked them to explain as to how they would compensate the government if they lose the case.