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Govt to challenge TDSAT order
April 09, 2003 13:16 IST
Government on Wednesday decided to appeal in Supreme Court against telecom tribunal's order rejecting its claim of privilege on certain internal documents which led to the decision to allow basic operators to offer limited mobility services.
"We have no objection in showing any file to Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal. But we cannot show files to business rivals. We have decided to appeal in the Supreme Court against the tribunal's order," solicitor general and government counsel Kirit Raval said in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, TDSAT has fixed April 23 for giving further directions.
Asked as to when the government would file an appeal, Raval said, "As early as possible."
Commenting on the development, counsel for cellular operators Gopal Jain said, "Government has time between Wednesday and April 23 to go to Supreme Court or whichever forum they choose to go, to try "
"If they do not get a stay, the matter will proceed before TDSAT, where on April 23 they will give further directions in the matter," he said dismissing apprehensions that WLL matter would now get delayed in the process.
The hearing was earlier slated to be completed by April 9 in the tribunal.
Stating that the development should not be seen as a delay, Jain pointed out, "It is an issue of principles that documents which are relevant in a dispute between licensor and licensee should be placed before the tribunal so it can understand the decision-making process and can give its verdict on the matter."
"It is not a delay it is a plus point...it will enhance the decision-making process," Jain said.
Commenting on the insistence by cellular operators that internal documents of government be disclosed, Jain alleged there had been a change in decision-making process which had not been disclosed in the pleadings filed by government.
"Therefore they (government) have to place it not only before the court but we are entitled in law that documents need to be shown to the opposite side."
The tribunal on Tuesday rejected the stand of government claiming privilege and directed that the documents in respect of which privilege has been claimed, be filed before it.
TDSAT's order said, "We do not think any case for privilege has been made out by government under section 123 of Evidence Act. Rather we are of the opinion that when allegations of extraneous considerations have been made, it is more appropriate in a case like present one that any claim for privilege, even if there is one, should be waived."
"In these days of liberalisation when private operators have come into the field and there is conflict between the two different types of operators, government has to keep a neutral stand and when there is a challenge that government has violated the code neutrality, it is appropriate that the documents are brought on record to justify the action of government," it had said.