Notifying Aircel customers to shift to another operator would “results into public dissatisfaction at large”, The Department of Telecom (DoT) told the Supreme Court as indicated by this Tribube India report. The SC was hearing replies filed by the DoT after it earlier threatened to withdraw 2G spectrum licenses owned by Aircel in 14 circles as the company’s promoter Maxis Berhad failed to show up in court for its role in the 2G scam case.
Maxis currently owns a 74% stake in Aircel and the apex court had earlier ordered the promoter to attend proceedings at a lower court for CBI’s investigation into the 2G scam. However, Maxis owner T Ananda Krishnan and former director Augustus Ralph Marshall did not appear in court. The SC then ordered DoT to look for an “alternative” service provider for Aircel’s 91 million customers.
On Friday the DoT informed SC that “any such provisional shifting will result in shifting of revenue to other service providers and may require auction process to be followed…such shifting (of subscribers) is not feasible for the answering respondent (DoT) to implement.” The telecom department added that any license revoking would be followed by a public notice issued to all subscribers informing them port out their number before the network shut down.
Earlier, Aircel had asked the apex court not to pass any order that might put its spectrum holding in jeopardy stating that it would cause “incalculable damage”, according to this ET report. Aircel is currently in the process of merging its wireless business with Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Communications, and any loss of spectrum might jeopardize the merger deal which is valued at Rs 65,000 crore. Note that Telenor was also speculated to have been in talks with RCOM to merge operations with the Aircel-RCOM joint venture.
Special court quashes Dayanidhi Maran’s involvement in 2G scam
DoT’s statements also come at a time when a special court quashed all charges of money laundering and criminal conspiracy held against ex-telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran. The court said that it did not find any evidence to support allegations of the Maran brothers’ involvement in the 2G scam case. The CBI earlier held that the ex-telecom minister conspired with the owner of Maxis to sell his shares to the owner of Aircel as a bribe, which was originally paid in the form of an investment from Sun Direct (owned by Maran brothers).