Airtel faces Rs 650-cr penalty for violating licence norms

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 09, 2013 04:59 hrs

The government might slap a Rs 650 crore penalty on Bharti Airtel for violating licence terms on subscriber local dialing (SLD) services.

A committee of the department of telecommunications (DoT) has recommended penalties of Rs 50 crore each for 13 telecom circles where the company has violated the terms. The committee has sought the views of the minister of communications and information technology, Kapil Sibal on this.

According to a recent discussion, the committee noted Airtel had violated the national long-distance (NLD)/international long distance (ILD) licence conditions in 13 circles between 2000 and 2005.

Responding on the issue, a Bharti spokesperson said, "We are in compliance of all regulations. All relevant details have already been provided to the authorities."

The committee has also alleged Bharti Airtel routed national and international calls as local calls, causing loss to the government exchequer and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.

The committee also noted Bharti Airtel had not stopped the service at least up to June 2005, even after specific directions from DoT on June 20, 2003. In May 2005, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had said Bharti was liable to termination of its licences. But, the regulator did not recommend termination as it would affect a large number of subscribers, according to a recent note of the committee.

Trai had also favoured penalty.

After reviewing all the call detail records (CDRs), the committee has also noted that there were discrepancies.