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WLL: DoT may move SC on Wadhwa dissent

Thomas K Thomas in New Delhi | August 12, 2003 08:24 IST

The department of telecommunications is exploring the possibility of challenging in the Supreme Court the dissenting opinion given by Justice DP Wadhwa, chairman of the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal, in the ruling on limited mobility.

The department has sought legal opinion on the matter, and a decision is expected this week.

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Justice Wadhwa, in his dissent order given on Friday, had severely indicted the department for "illegally" allowing WLL limited mobility.

Department officials said if the order was left unchallenged, it could be used to push for an inquiry by an external agency into the process followed while taking the policy decision.

Vinod Vaish, telecom secretary, said the department was studying the tribunal's order in detail to decide on the future course of action.

Government sources said the department might also consult the law ministry. A meeting of officials of the department and legal experts was held in Sanchar Bhawan on Saturday to discuss the matter, they said.

Meanwhile, the Cellular Operators' Association of India is meeting to chart out a plan of action on the majority order, which allowed basic operators the option of limited mobility.

However, a decision may be taken only after two or three rounds of meetings since a number of operators like Spice Corp are in favour of resolving the issue through discussions with the government and basic operators.

On the other hand, the hawks in the association are of the opinion that they should go the whole hog and fight it out in the apex court, especially in the light of Justice Wadhwa's dissent and the recognition by the majority bench of issues of a level playing field between basic and cellular operators.

However, basic operators are now pushing hard for a unified licence. Since the tribunal has asked WLL operators to pay an entry fee, basic operators said they would rather pay up and get a full-fledged mobile licence.

The move has found further momentum with the communications ministry, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and industry bodies like the Confederation of Indian Industry saying a unified licence will resolve all disputes in the sector. Interestingly, several cellular operators are now falling in line with this theory.

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Sub: Speed-breakers on an autobahn cannot sustain.

"The move has found further momentum with the communications ministry, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and industry bodies like the Confederation of Indian Industry ...


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