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Law Ministry On 3G ICR Agreements: DoT Can Cancel Permits, Claim Revenue

The Law Ministry has given its nod to the Department of Telecom for taking action against telcos that have been offering 3G services in service areas where they were not allotted 3G spectrum via Intra-circle roaming agreements, following which the DoT intends to direct operators such as Vodafone, Idea and Airtel to stop offering 3G services in circles where they don't have 3G spectrum, according to a report by The Economic Times. The report cites the Additional Solicitor General's response to a DoT query, in which he has clarified that the DoT had the right to claim the revenue earned by companies who did not have 'any authorisation, permission or license from the DoT' to run 3G services based on'the doctrine of unjust enrichment'. It added that the DoT also had the mandate to cancel their permits. However, the ministry also mentioned that DoT cannot impose financial penalties on the telcos. Note that leading telcos, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Airtel use 3G Intra-circle roaming pacts to offer 3G services in areas where they don't have a 3G license. The DoT and the operators have been at loggerheads on the issue, with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) delivering a split-verdict on the dispute, in July, as the two-member judge bench comprising of the chairman Justice S B Sinha and member P K Rastogi, reached different conclusions on whether these pacts could be allowed or not. While Sinha approved the telecom operators’ appeal against DoT's directive to stop intra-circle 3G roaming stating that DoT had not followed proper…

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