Idea gets a breather as Rs250 crore fine stayed


7 Apr 2011
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The Telecom Dispute Settlment and Appellate Tribunal, or TDSAT, has restrained Department of Telecommunications (DoT) from collecting a Rs250 crore fine from Idea Cellular, country’s third-largest mobile telephony operator by revenue market share.

Idea Cellular — part of the Aditya Birla group — had acquired Spice Communications in 2008 but the merger of the two entities has hit several regulatory hurdles as Spice owned overlapping telecom license and spectrum in different telecom circles.

In June, DoT, apex body in the country that issues licences and regulates telecom services fined Idea `250 crore for violation of applicable regulations while carrying out the merger.

On Monday, Delhi High Court asked Idea to return 6 overlapping licences and spectrum to DoT besides imposing a fine of Rs1 crore.

Idea was also directed to pay Rs1 crore for suppressing information on its deal with Spice, the court said in an order posted on its website.

Idea denied wrongdoing and said it would appeal against the order.

With the latest stay order from TDSAT, the firm gets a breather.

Idea has maintained that it sought DoT’s opinion before merging with Spice but that the body has not been very responsive to its efforts to communicate but has now gone on an overdrive finding fault with the merger process.

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