In a breather to telecom operators Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, the Bombay High Court issued a stay order on the government’s decision for a one-time fee for holding excess 2G spectrum. The Madras High Court, too, granted an injunction in favour of Aircel, which had challenged the constitutionality of the decision. The company faces a burden of Rs 1,400 crore due to the fee.
The court has granted the country’s largest telecom operator, Bharti Airtel, a stay till February 24. Idea Cellular secured a stay order till March 1. Earlier this month, the department of telecommunications (DoT) had asked Airtel and Vodafone to pay Rs 3,800 crore as the first installment of the one-time fee by January 31.
An Aircel spokesperson said, "The Aircel Group has got a stay order in its favour today in all the three petitions filed before the high court regarding the fee intended to be levied by DoT." The injunction has been granted until further orders, said a source.
The one time spectrum fee it required to pay for 4.4 MHz of spectrum and above, till the remaining period of the license time, is calculated at around Rs 1,400 crore, said a company official. According to earlier reports, the Government of India was expecting to collect around Rs 20,000 crore from the one-time charge, through the decision which was approved by the Cabinet ministers earlier. The department had issued a demand notice to telecom operators on January 9, this year.
It may be noted that Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular has also recieved stay orders against the imposition of one time fee, for a limited period.
According to earlier reports, the cabinet has earlier decided to impose a one time fee, retrospectively for the spectrum held in excess of 6.2 MHz, from 2008 onwards, and prospectively for companies holding above 4.4 MHz spectrum. The amount was calculated based on the auction price arrived in for the recent spectrum allocation.