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TDSAT sets aside fines of Rs 650 crore on Airtel and Rs 100 crore on Vodafone

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Telecom tribunal TDSAT Tuesday set aside Rs 650 crore penalty on Airtel and Rs 100 crore fine on Vodafone imposed by the DoT in a roaming case.

“We, accordingly, set aside the impugned orders of penalty/demand notices in all the three cases. In the result all the petitions are
allowed with costs quantified at Rs 25,000 for each of the petitions,” TDSAT bench chaired by Justice Aftab Alam said in the order.

The DoT had issued demand notice of Rs 650 crore to Airtel and Rs 100 crore to Vodafone (formerly Hutch) in July and August 2013.

The DoT had found Bharti Airtel routing national and international calls as local calls (SLD) under a scheme till 2005 despite being told to stop it in 2003, and that it caused loss to the government exchequer and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) across 13 service areas.

Similar allegations were levelled against Hutch for offering such services in Delhi and Mumbai.
The DoT imposed Rs 50 crore in each telecom circle for alleged violation of rule on both the companies.

The service was carried on by Hutch for slightly over a year from 12 December 2002 to 31 December 2003, and by Airtel for over two years from 5 October 2002 to 11 January 2005.

TDSAT said that there was no loss to BSNL due to these services by Airtel and Vodafone.

The tribunal pulled up DoT saying the department “must learn that imposition of penalty is not a means for generation of revenue and to meet the financial targets and we regret to say that such orders can only be passed by someone who, safe in anonymity, feels secure from any accountability.”

PTI

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